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The Hare with Amber Eyes (Illustrated…

The Hare with Amber Eyes (Illustrated Edition): A Hidden Inheritance (original 2010; edition 2012)

by Edmund de Waal

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2,3241142,716 (3.97)295
Title:The Hare with Amber Eyes (Illustrated Edition): A Hidden Inheritance
Authors:Edmund de Waal
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012), Edition: Ill, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal (2010)

  1. 00
    The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Roth's novel is set in Vienna during the time the author's ancestors lived there.
  2. 00
    The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both authors are English grandchildren of European Jews who lost homes and possessions during the Holocaust.
  3. 00
    In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Charles Ephrussi, one of the subjects of this biography, was a model for Charles Swann.
  4. 00
    The Little Book by Selden Edwards (AmourFou)
    AmourFou: A very different story than The Hare with Amber Eyes but I found myself thinking of this book for its apt reinforcement of fin de siècle Vienna.
  5. 00
    Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (shaunie)
  6. 00
    The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her Daughter by Elisabeth Gille (Cimbrone)
    Cimbrone: Also a book about a privileged Jewish family before, during and after WW II. Sumptuous and tragic.
  7. 00
    The Eitingons: a twentieth-century story by Mary-Kay Wilmers (marieke54)

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» See also 295 mentions

English (103)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (114)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
This is a great family biography. The author takes a look at the story behind the netsuks of his uncle, discovering a lot about his family. On the one hand, it shows the joy of the arts which his family has been cultivating and gathering since the middle of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, it is also the great suffering of his Jewish origin.
The Paris part, which plays in the middle of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century, shows Charles' collection. He was a great patron who knew and promoted various Impressionist artists. He was also the one who bought the Netsuk collection. I am fascinated by the relationship between Charles and Rodin, Degas, etc. It is about pictures I have already seen, how they originated and which figures who represent whom. Also in the Viennese part is told about arts, the collection family of the family goes on, especially the books of his great-grandfather.
The ambivalent relationship between the countries and the Jews also plays a large part. On the one hand, they have always been used as money-makers and financiers for hundreds of years, and they were also highly esteemed on the other hand, they were the first to suffer when the nationalistic thinking of the nations tipped. This will be visible in the Paris part, but much more drastic in the Viennese part. What concerned me the most was not the expropriation itself, I have already read a lot about this, but rather not to return the stolen property or to receive it only at a ridicule price. With this kind of stolen property has not yet been made up to today pure table.
The Tokyo section tells how the netsuks came into being and what they mean. It is a culture that is alien to me but fascinates. ( )
  Ameise1 | Feb 4, 2017 |
Exceptional literary book about 5 generations of an exceptional family with an interesting history. The book began when Edward de Waal inherited a collection of 264 netsuke, tiny Japanese carvings of wood and ivory, of exceptional quality. He wanted to learn the history of the collection. His travels and the documents he found led him to Vienna, Paris, Russia and Japan. His wealthy relatives, the Ephrussis, were bankers on par with the Rothchilds, and marriage connected those families. The author makes ceramic pots at an art level.

The story is so beautifully rendered that it's a pleasure to read and I learned many new words. It reads like a novel but is a true history and story of this remarkable family. It takes us briefly through World War II and Nazi occupation, which is where the family fortune was lost, confiscated. The netsuke collection survives because of a caring, astute maid of the family who risked her life to hide them.

This is a remarkable book on many levels and I highly recommend it to all readers who appreciate literary works and a pleasurable history lesson.
( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
While this book is primarily about the provenance of a netsuke collection, it is also a biography of the author's family. De Waal's paternal grandmother was an Ephrussi, a European Jewish banking family. The family's patriarch started out as a grain merchant in Odessa. By the time of his death, one of his sons headed a Parisian branch of the Ephrussi bank while another son headed the Viennese branch of the bank. Charles Ephrussi, of the Parisian branch of the family, was not expected to join the family business since he was a younger son. He developed a passion for art, becoming an art critic and rubbing shoulders with impressionists including Renoir and literary figures including Proust. Proust's Swann is partially based on Charles Ephrussi. While the Parisian art world was captivated by Japonisme, Charles purchased a collection of netsuke – small, intricate ivory or boxwood carvings.

Near the turn of the 20th century, Charles's Viennese cousin, Viktor, was getting married. The netsuke collection was Charles's wedding gift to Viktor and his bride, Emmy, who were de Waal's great-grandparents. At this point, de Waal's narrative shifts to Vienna and the history of this branch of the Ephrussi family. De Waal's grandmother, Viktor and Emmy's eldest daughter, grew up in the Palais Ephrussi on Vienna's Ring. The Ephrussis lived in the Palais through one World War, but were forced out of their home when Austria was Aryanized in 1938. While most of the family's possessions were lost, never to be recovered, the netsuke collection remained in the family and is currently in the author's possession. You'll need to read the book to find out how the netsuke were spared!

This book reminds me of Thomas Harding's The House by the Lake. Both Harding and de Waal are English grandchildren of a Jewish woman whose family lost their home and possessions to the Nazis in the 1930s. The family history is a secondary focus in both books; Harding's book explores the history of a house his great-grandfather built as a vacation home, while de Waal's book explores the history of a family heirloom.

The illustrated edition of this book is filled with mostly color photographs, facsimiles, and art reproductions, and photographs of the netsuke on the end papers. Without the illustrations, I probably would have been constantly pausing to Google something mentioned in the text. I recommend this edition to other readers with the caveat that it's a book best read at home. The book is printed on high-quality glossy paper, which does justice to the illustrations but makes the book too heavy to be easily portable. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 15, 2017 |
An utterly delightful mix of history and autobiography.

As potter Edmond de Waal follows on the trail of the netsuke collection he covers history in many forms - art, political, family, social. And all the while painting personal pictures of his relatives, as well as his reactions. ( )
  devilish2 | Jan 2, 2017 |
The illustrated edition is a bonus, really allows you to picture, literally, his wonderful writing and descriptions. Beautiful book, very well written, fascinating story. ( )
  APopova | Jan 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
What happened to the hare with amber eyes, and the carved medlar that almost felt as if it might squish when handled, after their return from Japan? De Waal bought them a secondhand vitrine from the V&A and set it up in his London house, its door unlocked so his own children could play with its contents. "Objects have always been . . . stolen, retrieved and lost. It is how you tell their stories that matters." He has told their story wonderfully. Oh, and this is a beautiful and unusual book, as a physical object. Somebody really cared.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmund de Waalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boraso, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, MarceloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilzensauer, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnová, LucieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lempens, WillekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miró, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prosperi, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rugstad, ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sasada, MasakoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Even when one is no longer attached to things, it's still something to have been attached to them; because it was always for reasons which other people didn't grasp...Well, now that I'm a little too weary to live with other people, these old feelings, so personal and individual, that I had in the past, seem to me - it's a mania for all collectors - very precious. I open my heart to myself like a sort of vitrine, and examine one by one all those love affairs of which the world can know nothing. And of this collection to which I'm now much more attached than to my others, I say to myself, rather as Mazarin said of his books, but in fact without the least distress, that it will be very tiresome to have to leave it at all.'
Charles Swann.

Marcel Proust, 'Cities of the Plain'.
For Ben, Matthew and Anna
and for my father.
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In 1991 I was given a two-year scholarship by a Japanese foundation.
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Paris 1871-1899 -- Vienna 1899-1938 -- Vienna Kövecses, Tunbridge Wells, Vienna 1938-1947 -- Tokyo 1947-2001 -- Tokyo, Odessa, London 2001-2009.
Haiku summary
Mansions, power, art / Exile, stolen dignity / Netsuke bear witness (LynnB)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312569378, Paperback)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: At the heart of Edmund de Waal's strange and graceful family memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes, is a one-of-a-kind inherited collection of ornamental Japanese carvings known as netsuke. The netsuke are tiny and tactile--they sit in the palm of your hand--and de Waal is drawn to them as "small, tough explosions of exactitude." He's also drawn to the story behind them, and for years he put aside his own work as a world-renowned potter and curator to uncover the rich and tragic family history of which the carvings are one of the few concrete legacies. De Waal's family was the Ephrussis, wealthy Jewish grain traders who branched out from Russia across the capitals of Europe before seeing their empire destroyed by the Nazis. Beginning with his art connoisseur ancestor Charles (a model for Proust's Swann), who acquired the netsuke during the European rage for Japonisme, de Waal traces the collection from Japan to Europe--where they were saved from the brutal bureaucracy of the Nazi Anschluss in the pockets of a family servant--and back to Japan and Europe again. Throughout, he writes with a tough, funny, and elegant attention to detail and personality that does full justice to the exactitude of the little carvings that first roused his curiosity. --Tom Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:06 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Traces the parallel stories of nineteenth-century art patron Charles Ephrussi and his unique collection of 360 miniature netsuke Japanese ivory carvings, documenting Ephrussi's relationship with Marcel Proust and the impact of the Holocaust on his cosmopolitan family.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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