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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss chapter 1 The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, meaning The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, genre The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, book cover The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, flies The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss 48a443bfe7b35 The Ephrussis Were A Grand Banking Family, As Rich And Respected As The Rothschilds, Who Burned Like A Comet In Nineteenth Century Paris And Vienna Society Yet By The End Of World War II, Almost The Only Thing Remaining Of Their Vast Empire Was A Collection Of Wood And Ivory Carvings, None Of Them Larger Than A MatchboxThe Renowned Ceramicist Edmund De Waal Became The Fifth Generation To Inherit This Small And Exquisite Collection Of Netsuke Entranced By Their Beauty And Mystery, He Determined To Trace The Story Of His Family Through The Story Of The CollectionThe Netsuke Drunken Monks, Almost Ripe Plums, Snarling Tigers Were Gathered By Charles Ephrussi At The Height Of The Parisian Rage For All Things Japanese Charles Had Shunned The Place Set Aside For Him In The Family Business To Make A Study Of Art, And Of Beautiful Living An Early Supporter Of The Impressionists, He Appears, Oddly Formal In A Top Hat, In Renoir S Luncheon Ofthe Boating Party Marcel Proust Studied Charles Closely Enough To Use Him As A Model For The Aesthete And Lover Swann In Remembrance Of Things PastCharles Gave The Carvings As A Wedding Gift To His Cousin Viktor In Vienna His Children Were Allowed To Play With One Netsuke Each While They Watched Their Mother, The Baroness Emmy, Dress For Ball After Ball Her Older Daughter Grew Up To Disdain Fashionable Society Longing To Write, She Struck Up A Correspondence With Rilke, Who Encouraged Her In Her PoetryThe Anschluss Changed Their World Beyond Recognition Ephrussi And His Cosmopolitan Family Were Imprisoned Or Scattered, And Hitler S Theorist On The Jewish Question Appropriated Their Magnificent Palace On The Ringstrasse A Library Of Priceless Books And A Collection Of Old Master Paintings Were Confiscated By The Nazis But The Netsuke Were Smuggled Away By A Loyal Maid, Anna, And Hidden In Her Straw Mattress Years After The War, She Would Find A Way To Return Them To The Family She D Served Even In Their ExileIn The Hare With Amber Eyes, Edmund De Waal Unfolds The Story Of A Remarkable Family And A Tumultuous Century Sweeping Yet Intimate, It Is A Highly Original Meditation On Art, History, And Family, As Elegant And Precise As The Netsuke Themselves


10 thoughts on “The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

  1. says:

    After the first few pages I was wondering whether this wa going to be one I would have to wade through as a noble act of bookclub fidelity However, its like a walk up a mountain where you are straining up a hill, panting and feeling its your duty and then suddenly you brow the hill and there opening out before you is this great vista and you get a second wind and off you go at a cracking pace This is exactly what happened with this really clever concept Edmund de Waal, a potter, traces the history of 264 netsuke, small japanese ornaments made from various woods and stones, through their purchase by one of his ancestors in the 1870 s through their journey to Paris, Vienna, Tunbridge Wells on to a return to Japan and then back to their final resting place in London The 120 years or so of their possession by the Ephrussi family corresponds to the families journey from fabulously wealthy bankers forming alliances and business deals which involve massive amounts of money and floating in social circles involving the Emperor of the Austro Hungarian Empire and assorted high related royals and politicians to the hideous reversal of fortunes with the anschluss, the arrival of Hitler and the betrayal of the family along with all the other jewish men, women and children who had been so useful in some situations but now necessary as the traditional scapegoat.Edmund de Waal has a simple technique of relating his family history through their relationship to these small ornaments Each one tells a story but each one s story is incomplete, open ended His family history shows that The ornaments rest in a cupboard in Paris, fabulously wealthyhere they are complete but no they are sent as a wedding present to an equally wealthy austrian branch of the family Here they rest in a beautiful showcase, their journey ended.no the horror of viennese pogroms threaten them as it destroyed the family And saved by the maid servant they move on again but as a perfect symbol of the family s implosion they move from their enthronement in walnut, glass and velvet to their hiding place inside a servant s straw mattress After the war she hands them back to surviving members of the family, a small fragment, almost all that is left of the ridiculous wealth enjoyed by this family prior to their undoing by the foul action of the Nazis Nevertheless one small side of me is saddened by the fact that the devotion and fidelity of the servant who, at risk of her own life, preserves this wealth, is just accpeted by the family as their right The cruelty and degradation perpetrated on the family in the 1930 s and 40 s was monstrous but prior to that the family themselves struck me as heartless, egocentric libertines Living lives of wasteful opulence and insensitive gluttony They did not deserve the terror of course but perhaps their servants and those who saw their flaunting of their wealth did not deserve their poverty either and the family seem quite unable to acknowledge that and indeed the gratitude that they owe to the loyalty of their servants.


  2. says:

    At first I thought this book was slow, overly preoccupied with art at the expense of narrative, and becalmed By the end, the author s view as artist illumined the narrative and its characters, who are several past generations of his family As all the summaries and reviews say, the generation of his great grandfather were a wealthy Jewish banking and grain exporting dynasty in Paris and Vienna and around Europe, and also art collectors and patrons, but in the next generation the family s financial wealth and influence was lost in the conflagration of Hitler and WWII.The author has gone on a voyage of discovery to reclaim his family and the lost world they experienced, putting his own career and family on hold in the meantime At first what he s doing wasn t clearly apparent I could see his amateurism in the writing, for example, ambiguous meaning, or foreign words not always defined, but not why he was writing it Even though he was saying why, I couldn t hear You have to be persistent with this book and stick with the author if you do, it will pay off Since he s on that voyage of discovery, he doesn t always know himself just where he s going, how much time to invest in researching and writing, or whether what he s doing is important.The journey is an achievement The author didn t have to go on this journey but he did.AntisemitismAt times the Ephrussis and the others of their circle were living the lives of aristocrats, but whenever anything went wrong, they were targeted in writing and the media When an artist s Jewish patron was supporting him at the level to which that artist had become accustomed, everything was hunky dory, but, if not, it was because the patron was giving precedence to Jew art When a Catholic bank with ties to the Church collapsed, popular analysis related the circumstance to Jewish bankers nonchalantly playing at enormous financial transactions as though at a party game The clever, quick witted, indefatigable Jew had been gifted with freedom in their countries, only to prey upon a public and political world totally unfit for defense against or competition with him Fresh from Talmud and synagogue, and consequently trained to conjure with the law and skilled in intrigue, the invading Semite arrived from Galicia or Hungary and carried everything before him Unknown and therefore unchecked by public opinion, without any stake in the country and therefore reckless, he sought only to gratify his insatiable appetite for wealth and power English writer Henry Wickham Steed Capitalism and the Jews is really good regarding conspiracy theories like that The author, Jerry Muller, is a historian, not an economist or businessman My review can be found at How recent the emancipation of Jews in Europe has been isn t always evident in this book Jews had only been allowed out of the ghettos or shtetls in the author s great and great great grandfathers day, whereupon some had proceeded to achieve commercial, professional, academic, and artistic heights within two generations A couple of years ago at the Decatur GA Book Festival I heard Doug Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name The Re Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, speak He remarked on the explosion of achievement and creativity by African Americans upon freedom from Jim Crow his term was unprecedented, if I remember right He might have considered the Jews of Europe in the 1800s to have been a precedent.In the acknowledgements, the author includes Michael Goldfarb as one of three people who encouraged him to stop talking and start writing That is almost certainly the same Michael Goldfarb who wrote Emancipation How Liberating Europe s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, a highly readable history I recommend it to accompany this book and fill in the historical gaps.Religious feelingThe reader could get the picture that the Ephrussis were secular Jews devoid of religious feeling or attachment to Judaism There are clues at the end, albeit subtle, that the reader could be wrong This author is not very adept at describing such feelings, not even, for example, in his father, a clergyman When, a few generations earlier, Jews were in their ghettos or shtetls Judaism wasn t a religion it was a way a way of life When they emerged, the social realities upon which that was based were decimated Goldfarb writes that in the first generation there were a lot of conversions, e.g., Heinrich Heine Marx s father, etc With avenues of creativity opening, the hemorrhaging slowed The Ephrussis could have converted before the Nazis forced their hand but did not I ve read that, in Germany, society demanded that the contribution of Jews be in terms of what they gave up of Jewishness not what they gave from their heritage.Sometimes I think of all the American Jewish celebrities and scientists today who declare they re secular or atheist They think they are being so smart and rational but it comes across to me that same way that they re knuckling under I think people know that being a minority in a majority culture has its impact, but when it comes to ourselves we underestimate that kind of impact July 23, 2013 I ve been editing some parts of this review that were too negative, which I want to mention in case the editing affects how some of the comments appear in relation to the review News The author s grandmother s novel, which he thought was unpublishable, has been published earlier this year The Exiles Return There was a beautiful review by Erica Wagner, identified as the literary editor of The Times of London, in the May June issue of Moment Magazine but there is no link that I can post Now I m thinking I may have been able to open and copy paste, but I haven t done that yet Anyway, she says Edmund de Waal was overly modest about his grandmother s book She says she was expecting an inward looking, ruminative meditation on the aftermath of conflict and found insteada bold, gripping, and highly political novel She further says it s no surprise Elisabeth de Waal couldn t find a publisher right after the end of the war, since the book deals frankly with anti Semitism and the lingering stench of the Holocaust There are already a few reviews on Goodreads.Addendum, Dec 15, 2013 Trading in GrainFrom my current book on capitalism in western thought, The Mind and the Market by Jerry Muller, I m coming to understand a little about the place of the grain trade in economics worthy of an addendum here since the Ephrussi financial empire was founded on the wheat business.By way of background, both Christianity and the Greek city state looked down not only on money lending but also on commerce In Christian thought wealth had been seen as an evil, and commerce, too Man was to earn his living by the sweat of his brow Trade buying cheap in one place and selling at a profit somewhere else was stealing, based on the theory that there was only so much wealth and on ignorance of the roles of knowledge and risk taking For the classical Greeks, unlike the Christian theologians, wealth wasn t evil The head of household needed to have sufficient wealth to not have to work and to be ready for war and defense of the polis Commerce was necessary and tolerated, including the purchase of grain to feed everybody, but neither merchants nor craftsmen were citizens For the heads of household to engage in commerce was seen as placing them in competition, which could interfere with their cooperation and readiness for war.Now, what about grain I ve just read a fourth of the Muller book, and so far he has made no general pronouncement about grain, but it has come up in medieval times and again in the 18th century Gratian s Decretum, a 12th century collection of thousands of texts and a basis of canon law for the church, specifically included grain traders among the ranks of usurers In the 18th century, the most sensitive question of economic policy was that of what the government s role should be in policing the supply of grain, per Muller p 94 according to the 18th century economic thinkers he s reporting on so far, government actions had a paradoxical effect, that is, made grain expensive In the late 18th century there had been poor harvests, so that the price of grain went up, leading to rural unrest and popular passions against those who traded in foodstuffs Why should traders be allowed to profit from hunger and the fact that people were in need Why shouldn t low cost grain be distributed or prices be controlled If most people don t understand the role of the market in the distribution of foodstuffs, then, according to Edmund Burke, for example, one role of the intellectual in politics is to combat popular prejudice in matters economic, and to advise legislators to stand up to short term political and moral pressures when they threaten long term national economic interests p 117 Note of 04 14 2014 I missed a major aspect of what Muller The Mind and the Market was getting at in the section I referenced in the above paragraph Muller was meaning to show Burke s conservatism relative to Adam Smith Burke looked with suspicion on the motivations of the common man He thought that class fear, envy, and ignorance would lead them, against their own long term interests, to interfere with the freedom of the market He privileged the existing aristocratic class as a pillar of society He thought it was the role of the intellectual to educate the established powers on the free market, which he sometimes spoke of in religious tones As my husband explained to me in very simple terms, in times of food shortages the price of grain does go up, but if there were no merchants and no grain had been stored, there would be no grain, or very little, so instead of just being costly, it would be beyond expensive, that is, priceless.Grain merchants who succeed have to learn a lot to do so, and they take a risk, losing money in years of plentiful harvests Governments don t have that same incentive to success They can t be the middlemen themselves, or can t be very good ones My husband also remembered recurrent reports of the Soviet Union s not being able to feed its citizens.Back to The Hare with Amber Eyes Charles Joachim Ephrussi had masterminded this expansion from Odessa in the 1850s A true patriarch, he had two sons from his first marriage And then when he remarriedhe continued producing children Odessa was a city within the Pale of Settlement, the area on the western borders of imperial Russia in which Jews were allowed to live It wasa magnet for the impoverished Jewish shtetls of Galicia It was also a city that doubled its population of Jews and Greeks and Russians every decade, a polyglot city full of speculation and traders, the docks full of intrigues and spies, a city on the make Charles Joachim Ephrussi had transformed a small grain trading business into a huge enterprise by cornering the market in buying wheat He bought the grain from the middlemen who transported it on carts from the rich black soil of the Ukrainian wheat fields, the greatest wheat fields in the world, into the port of Odessa Here the grain was stored in his warehouses before being exported across the Black Sea, up the Danube, across the Mediterranean.By 1860 the family had become the greatest grain exporters in the world.The masterplan was to build on this network of contacts and finance huge capital projects Ephrussi et Cie would change from being a very successful commodity trading house into an international finance house It would become a bank And each helpful deal struckwould be a step toward even greater respectability, a step further from those wagons of wheat creaking in from the Ukraine pp 24 25 And how was this spun It wasn t just Renoir who disliked the Jews A string of financial scandals throughout the 1880s were laid at the door of the new Jewish financiers, and the Ephrussi family was a particular target The popular demagogue Edouard Drumont wrote in La France juive The audicity with which these men treat these enormous operations, which for them are just simple game parties, is incredible In one session, Michel Ephrussi buys or sells oil or wheat worth ten or fifteen millions No trouble.Money is seen to be a bagatelle to these Jewish money men, implies Drumont, a plaything It has no connection to the savings carefully taken into the bank on market day or hidden in the coffee pot on the mantlepiece.It is a vivid image of covert power, of plotting It has the intention of Degas s painting At the Bourse of a whispered conversation between hook nosed, red bearded financiers amongst the pillars The Bourse and its players segue into the Temple and the moneychangers Who shall stop these men from living then, who shall soon make France look like a wasteland then it is the speculator in foreign wheat, it is the Jewthe favorite of all the salons of the aristocratic quarter it is Ephrussi, the chief of the Jewish band who speculate on wheat Speculation, the making of money out of money, is seen as a particular Jewish sin pp 90 91 This addendum on trading in grain represents my effort to better understand the targeting of the Ephrussis and others that was described in The Hare with Amber Eyes.


  3. says:

    I would have enjoyed this book had I been less familiar with some of the topics tackled during its first half Namely, the Paris and Vienna of the 1870 1914 period with Impressionism, Japonisme, Proust, circles of Jewish finance and art patrons, Dreyfus affair and the parallel Building of the Ringstrasse, the Sezession, Psychoanalysis, etc All this is a bit of a d j vu or d j lu for me But Edmund de Waal easily escapes the clich s when he relies on well known cultural episodes As the great grandchild of the Ephrussis, the family whose history the book traces, he is endowed with both a material and a moral advantage With access to family letters, photographs and personal testimonies, his account has a veneer of authenticity and freshness that is welcomed And as a ceramist, De Waal commissioned by the VA to design the new ceramics galleries literally handles the history of his family by turning it slowly and carefully around and around, paying meticulous attention to all its materiality What emerges is a fascinating and very sad story of a Jewish family in the Europe from late 19th Century onwards.All in all, an endearing book with counterbalanced Diaspora and Home Returning stories the Ephrussis and their Netsuke collection.


  4. says:

    There are many excellent reasons for reading The Hare with Amber Eyes Its author, Edmund De Waal, is known to the world as a fine ceramic artist, whose work is widely shown in museums and galleries He is also an exceptionally fine writer, bringing an artist s sensibility to this other medium a meticulous attention to the detail of language, its rhythms and its evocative potential Read the book for its exhaustive descriptions of interiors, whether bel poque Paris or Wiener Werkstatt Vienna for its evocations of historical moments like fin de siecle France, or Austria at the time of its annexation by Hitler and his Nazis, or immediately post war, bombed out Tokyo or for its compassionate portrayal of flawed and fascinating human characters Read it as a four generational family saga, or an insightful history of Europe from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth Read it even, also, particularly, as a personal journey, an exploration into the complex world of family heritage and inheritance.I came to the book as the result of reading a column by Roger Cohen in the New York Times before we left for Europe last month, and ordered it in time to take it with us on our trip But I didn t get to actually read it until this past week The column was called The Netsuke Survived , and Cohen s description of the book intrigued me It was a story of the survival not only of a collection of Japanese netsuke, but of the European Jewish family through whose various hands it passed, the family of which De Waal, brought up as the son of an Anglican minister, was the barely informed scion His research soon turned into an obsession that sidetracked him for two years from his own work as an artist.The story, as it eventually revealed itself to him and now, in turn, to us is at once absorbing and increasingly moving as it progresses The Ephrussi family, originally from Odessa, worked its way to fame and fortune in Paris and Vienna in the late 1800s The fortune derived from its prodigious success in the banking business a success that initially gave its members access to the social elites and the cultural salons This part of the story involves associations and friendships with artists Renoir, Degas and others with giants of the literary scene like Proust and the virulently anti Semitic Goncourt brothers Until l affaire Dreyfus, and its opening of that deep vein of envy and distrust of Jews in French society a time at which the family seemed suddenly to have outlived the welcome they had worked so hard to foster since arriving from the East Once great and powerful social hosts and patrons of the arts, they found themselves all too soon personae a lot less grata De Waal s descriptive narrative places us there, in the center of it all, at this turbulent time.The scene, along with ownership of the netsuke collection, shifts to pre World War I Vienna and its social whirl, where another branch of the Ephrussi family has also established a foothold in the banking business their massive mansion occupies a significant site on the Ringstrasse, and their role in the business and socio economic establishment seems assured They have become the proverbial pillars of society, living a life of extraordinary privilege and wealth Patriots, too, they give generously of their wealth and power to their adopted country, serving with distinction in the military, supporting the war effort in every way, and sharing in the humiliation of defeat They could scarcely have foreseen what the next decade would bring them in return increasing distrust, suspicion, isolation and, all too soon, the arrival of the brutish Nazis and persecution, not only at the hands of the Gestapo but also those of their compatriots We watch, aghast, as the family is brought to ruin It s a dreadful lesson in impermanenceIn the chaos, it is Anna, a faithful family retainer, who saves the netsuke collection from the hands of the invaders They, with impunity, steal everything else the art, the beloved books, the mansion, the bank, and eventually all traces of identity, dignity and security One of the great strengths, I think, of De Waal s account, is not to disguise the classism of the nouveaux riches, not to minimize the extent of their wealth and privilege nor the excesses and sometimes the frivolity of their way of life We understand, perhaps, a little though without in any way condoning the angrily envious attitudes of the have nots that laid open the way for an Adolph Hitler and his gang of murderers We also understand a little about the problems that we face today, a century later, and their origins in a capitalist economy and its detractors But never, as we read, are we allowed to share that got it coming to them rage that led to the horrors of the Holocaust.The penultimate chapter in the netsuke s journey is in the country of their origin, Japan, where De Waal s great uncle goes to take up residence after World War II and, along with the author, we reflect on that far country s culture and the aesthetic that produced these tiny, intricate and meticulously crafted works of art By the end of the book he himself is in possession of this family treasure all that remains, aside from brittle letters and documents, of a great family and its history It is a poignant end In the course of his search, the author has found some important piece of his own humanity and a renewed sense of the value of those closest to him in their London home.In all, this is a very rich and satisfying read When in England, we felt compelled to make the pilgrimage to see Splash, the current installation of De Waal s art work at the Victoria Albert Museum The elegant, simple, even minimal shapes of his pure white pots, dozens of them in a staggered, uneven row, occupy the entire whispering gallery, the circular base of a dome on the top floor, in the museum s wonderful ceramics department.The installation requires a sharply raised head to gain even a distant glance at them At this remove, they offer the viewer a sense of serenity, an appreciation for the beauty of form for its own sake, a stillness as remote as Keats s Grecian urn Their cool, insistently formal, abstract beauty contrasted curiously, I thought, with the intricate carving of the netsuke he describes in his book, and with its emotional intensity Placed so far from the viewer s eye, they do not invite the touch that clearly means so much to him in his relationship with the netsuke on the other hand, the touch of the artist s hand is clearly what defines their shape and presence, and their denial of it to the viewer is perhaps as powerful as the permission Certainly, it brought attention to my own desire to know things in this way, through first hand experience and yet, as de Waal s book shows, time alone deprives us of that possibility There is much we must be content to know only at a distance, and through the mediation of one who cares enough to show us the way.


  5. says:

    The concept of tracing the history of a rich Jewish bankers family through the vicissitudes of a collection of Japanese miniature sculptures, is original and interesting The beginning of the book is a bit slow, but it then comes to life with fascinating descriptions of the Ephrussi in Paris during Impressionism or in Vienna during the first part of the 20th century, ending with dramatic events surrounding the Austrian Anschluss into the German Reich.And yet it is hard to feel much sympathy either for this family or for the author A wronged sense of entitlement pervades much of the book, and a lot of energy goes into describing how the family lost most of its wealth under the Nazis the description of the Kristallnacht mob entering the Ephrussi building and ransacking the furniture is blood curdling On the other hand, no moral judgment is passed on how the Ephrussi had been spending their money until then, nor is the reader left any clearer as to how the Ephrussi s fortune was amassed in a few short decades only In this romantic vision of When my family played Downton Abbey in Vienna , servants receive short shrift Anna, the saviour of the netsuke collection, is quickly dismissed nobody in the family even remembers her last name and of course the doorman is blamed for letting the gates wide open for the Gestapo on an inspection visit as if a closed door was going to stop them It would have been easier to warm to the family if the author had come across as less self absorbed His pottery activity is mentioned regularly, but is pretty much irrelevant to the book and some odd choices in vocabulary a glaucous pudding really betray the random use of a thesaurus to impress the readers Finally, some fact checking would have been in order, so as to get the spelling and syntax of French and German phrases right The errors are not only linguistic, but also historical and geographic Czechoslovakia did not exist before 1918, so the Ephrussi couldn t have had a country estate there if anything, before WWI they would probably have thought of it as Hungary Dachau is not on the edge of Bavaria but on the outskirts of Munich Germany was the land of thinkers and poets Land der Dichter und Denker , not Austria etc etc Overall, an interesting read of a flawed book The awards for the book seem motivated by compassion for the riches to rags family history coupled with a Goodwin bonus , than for the craftsmanship of the author.


  6. says:

    Netsuke fra andata e ritornoLa lettura di Un eredit di avorio e ambra , inaspettato dono della nostra editoria, si rivelata una gradita sorpresa, un libro traboccante cultura e arte, con una scrittura di livello, elegante, che non delude mai.L autore, De Waal, un artigiano artista nostro contemporaneo di una certa notoriet , custodisce nella propria casa in Inghilterra una ricchissima collezione di netsuke , ninnoli o meglio minuscole sculture d arte giapponese, ereditata da uno zio.Le peripezie di questa raccolta, in possesso della famiglia da quasi un secolo e mezzo, forma il filo conduttore di quest opera, che possiamo chiamare romanzo biografico , documentatissimo perci particolarmente convincente, che ha sullo sfondo la Storia d Europa di fine 800 e del 900.Frutto di un lavoro rigorosissimo di ricerca e documentazione.Gli antenati erano ricchi commercianti e banchieri che agivano essenzialmente a Parigi e Vienna, due capitali di cui lo scrittore ci restituisce tutto il fascino e lo splendore del tempo che fu.A Parigi le frequentazioni vanno da casa Proust agli ateliers degli Impressionisti.La banca di famiglia a Vienna, poi, viene citata da J Roth nel suo capolavoro La marcia di Radetzky La nonna dell autore era in corrispondenza epistolare con Rilke.Si tratta di una famiglia di origini ebraiche la quale, con l invasione nazista, perse quasi tutto, ma i 264 piccoli oggetti di pregio riuscirono avventurosamente a salvarsi, per poi ritornare all originario Giappone col trasferimento in Estremo Oriente dello zio da cui De Waal li erediter , testimoni e portatoti dell autenticit di un passato che aveva una tradizione, al cospetto di un presente, invece, in cui una cultura volgare e impudente, edonistica e senza limiti contamina il mondo occidentale e l Oriente industrializzato.


  7. says:

    This was an interesting read and a fascinating account of the journey of a group of netsuke through a family history of about 140 years and several generations The journey moves from Paris to Vienna, across Europe through Nazism and to Japan.De Waal s family history is fascinating and I was particularly interested in the link to Proust and Great Great Uncle Charles being the model for Swann The descriptions of furnishings and the decorative aspect of the grand residences are sumptuous De Waal has an artist s eye and a good way with words.The account of the rise of Nazism, the Anschluss and the dismantling of the family s fortunes give a clear and frightening first hand account of the horrors of the 1930s and the war Their fortunes reflect those of many wealthy Jewish families at that time De Waal has put together his family history well The only caveat I have is that the accumulation of wealth is seldom a neutral thing especially in a family of bankers I would have been interested in some detail about the lives of those who made them and the conditions in which they were made and perhaps some sense of the contrast of fabulous wealth with society around I felt a little uncomfortable that the servants were just referred to by their first names did anyone know their surnames On the whole it was a fascinating journey and one I enjoyed.


  8. says:

    WunderkammerCon passo da fl neur, come Edmund De Waal scrive a un certo punto del suo libro, l autore si mette sulle tracce della collezione dei 264 netsuke come ho avuto modo di imparare durante la lettura, piccole sculture giapponesi di avorio o di legno, non pi grandi di una scatola di fiammiferi, raffiguranti divinit , personaggi di ogni tipo, animali, piante ricevuti in eredit dallo zio Iggie.Ci ammonisce subito, De Waal, e confesso che dopo poche pagine era stato proprio questo il mio primo pensiero, che non si tratter della storia di un novello Utz , lo splendido romanzo di Bruce Chatwin, anche se sin dalle prime pagine sembrer di percepirne l atmosfera, che non sar nostalgico e inconsistente, ma che sar storia dei netsuke, di quei netsuke, e che ne seguir le tracce a ritroso fino a trovarne l origine Da qualche parte scrive De Waal, critico, storico dell arte e professore di ceramica alla University of Webminster, come recita la nota biografica uno dei pi famosi artisti della ceramica inglese deve pur esserci una letteratura sul tatto, qualcuno avr fissato in un diario o in una lettera quel momento fugace, la sensazione provata toccando uno di questi oggetti Voglio cercare le impronte delle sue dita Non immagina, per , De Waal quanto ricco e quanto complesso sar quel viaggio che si appresta a compiere, quanto la storia dei netsuke sia avvinghiata come l edera a quella della sua famiglia quella degli gli Efrussi, ricchi ebrei russi, commercianti di cereali prima e banchieri dopo, che verso la fine dell Ottocento partono da Odessa per mettere radici in Europa, a Vienna a Parigi, in Svizzera, per diventare gli Ephrussi, ricchi e famosi ovunque, al pari dei Rotschild, con ville e palazzi sparsi in tutta Europa, famosi rispettati e invidiati sia in ambito finanziario che in ambito artistico e culturale e quanto la ricerca delle origini di quelle piccole sculturine sembrer metterlo di continuo come il Giappone di Iggie davanti a una scatola piena di caramelle, nella quale pi si affondano le mani e pi se ne scoprono, una dopo l altra, sempre di pi colorate e di pi prelibate impossibile raccontare la ricchezza deI racconto di De Waal, della storia degli Ephrussi di Parigi che con Charles, il collezionista e mecenate, finiranno per influenzare non solo l alta societ , ma anche la pittura, la letteratura, il collezionismo.Charles, l uomo che finir nella Recherche Charles l uomo che aveva per segretario Laforgue, per amici Monet, Renoir, Degas Charles l uomo che passeggia, immortalato per sempre, dentro a un quadro di Renoir Charles, l uomo che con i suoi duecentossessantaquattro ninnoli, acquistati in blocco, dar vita a una delle collezioni pi ammirate di Parigi e poi se ne liberer offrendola in dono.O quella degli Ephrussi di Vienna che con Viktor, lo studioso, l erudito, costretto dalla sorte a occuparsi degli affari di famiglia, diventeranno baluardo della Ringstrasse, influenti punti di riferimento per gli Asburgo Viktor e il suo Caf Griendsteidl, una stazione meteorologica sul mondo Viktor che nella Vienna fin de siecle vede trasformarsi il suo mondo poco alla volta fino a sprofondare nella follia e nell orrore del nazismo Viktor che vedr la sua vita sconvolta da una fuga, e poi da un altra ancora Viktor che sar per Musil quello che Charles stato per Proust Viktor e la perdita dell identit.O dell indipendenza e dello spirito libero di Iggie uno degli Ignace degli Ephrussi e della sua vita errabonda che trova quiete in Giappone Iggie che riporta i netsuke a casa Iggie e la sua eleganza Iggie e il suo charme, e ancora una volta i suoi ninnoli che si affacciano su un tappeto di camelie guardando il lago, pi che un lago uno stagno, uno stagno grande, alla Thoreau.O raccontare la variegata e sfaccettata personalit dell affascinante Emmy che come una farfalla evanescente si muove per le stanze del Palais, o del rigore e l animo poetico di Elizabeth e della sua corrispondenza con Rielke, o della discreta e silenziosa presenza di Jiro, o delle tasche e del materasso di Anna, della dedizione di Anna.E infatti non possibile, nonostante abbia gi speso tante parole per provarci, perch questa una storia da leggere, da annusare e da guardare, da accarezzare e da mettersi in tasca bench voluminosa proprio come un netsuke, e da portare a passeggio con s lasciandosi avvincere dalla delicatezza e dalla sensibilit di De Waal, dal suo entusiasmo, dalla sua commozione e dalla sua emozione, da una storia che come una matrioska, fedele alla sua natura, apre una dopo l altra porte e finestre su mondi sempre pi lontani che esercitano il fascino del canto delle sirene da De Waal che, partito per inseguire i suoi ninnoli, si trova alla fine di un viaggio che somiglia proprio al suo inizio, a chiedere a se stesso, fra lettere e cartoline, quadri e netsuke, foto e poesie, palazzi e rovine, quanto sia giusto scavare nella storia delle persone perch se anche solo perch possiedi qualcosa, non sei obbligato a tramandarla.Ma il problema si risponde che io invece vivo nel secolo sbagliato per bruciare le cose Appartengo alla generazione sbagliata per lasciar perdere Penso a tutti i roghi meticolosi appiccati da quegli altri, penso alla cancellazione sistematica delle storie, alle persone separate dai propri beni, e poi dai propri familiari, alle famiglie separate dai propri vicini di casa E poi dal proprio paese Penso ovviamente a tutti quei nomi nelle liste di deportazione.Se altri hanno prestato tanta attenzione a cose cos importanti, anche io ho il dovere di dedicare lo stesso zelo a questi oggetti Alla loro storia Non so pi scrive quasi al termine del suo lungo camminare avanti e indietro nella storia della sua famiglia, da Parigi a Vienna, a Tokyo, a Odessa, se questo libro parli della mia famiglia, della memoria, di me, o se sia ancora un libro su certi oggettini giapponesi Io dico che non importa, cosa sia, e per dirlo uso ancora una volta le sue parole Estrai un oggetto dalla tasca, lo posi davanti a te, e inizi Inizi a raccontare una storia E scopri che quel netsuke che tieni nel palmo, scolpito nell avorio pi chiaro di tutta la collezione, scintilla perch una lepre che corre tra le onde rischiarate dalla luna


  9. says:

    Uma requintada pesquisa em busca de uma fam lia e de um tempo perdidos A partir do momento em que abrimos o livro entramos na velha Europa, integralmente recriada Colm T ib nDescobri A Lebre de Olhos de mbar numa lista intitulada 22 livros que s o diamantes para o c rebro , na qual constam 9 que j tinha lido, em que apenas 3 n o considero j ias preciosas porque enfim, n o posso gostar de tudoEdmund de Waal um prestigiado oleiro descendente da fam lia Ephrussi Ao herdar uma colec o de 264 netsuke , adquiridos pelo seu antepassado Charles Ephrussi , decide seguir o caminho dessas pequenas esculturas que, com a sua fam lia, atravessaram s culos e pa ses Sem nunca me cansar, viajei com Edmund por Paris, Viena, T quio, Odessa, Passei com tristeza por duas guerras mundiais Deslumbrei me com as refer ncias a obras e autores deliro com textos que me ensinam a ver uma pintura e a ler um livro e, claro, que me aumentem a lista de livros para ler, reler e comprar.Gostei muito da forma como o autor organizou a biografia dos Ephrussi fotografias, nos lugares certos e sem exagero, e cita es de v rias obras, que o revelam como um grande leitor.____________________________ Fam lia Ephrussi judeus oriundos de Odessa R ssia , que foram os maiores exportadores de cereais do mundo Nos finais do S culo IXX, para melhor condu o dos neg cios, um dos filhos do patriarca radica se na Austria e outro em Fran a Pal cio Ephrussi em Viana onde viviam os bisav s de Edmund de Waal quando foi ocupado pela Gestapo em 23 de abril de 1938 Netsuke s o pequenas esculturas, de madeira ou marfim, usados como adorno pelos japoneses alguns netsuke da colec o de Edmund de Wall Charles Ephrussi 1849 1905 , foi viver para Paris quando tinha vinte e um anos Como era o terceiro filho n o estava pressionado para seguir o neg cio da fam lia, dedicou se sua paix o de colecionador de obras de arte Foi amigo de pintores e escritores e um dos inspiradores de Marcel Proust na cria o da personagem de Charles Swann August Renoir, Le D jeuner des canotiers, 1880 Os modelos deste quadro s o alguns dos amigos de Renoir, entre os quais Charles Ephrussi o homem com chap u alto _________________________Da lista de 22 diamantes tenho 6 dos 10 j lidos


  10. says:

    Oh my good Lord, what did I do that you put me through the torture of reading that book Did I like it No.It is a story of the authors family in a blindly tunnel vision view of how everyone was out to get his Jewish family as they rose to the pinnacle of society in the Austrian empire, survived or less as well as anyone else did in the 2nd world war and on to his gay uncles exploits in Japan.With such wonderful chapter starters as It wasn t just Renoir who hated the Jews note no justification for the accusation whatsoever, other than the mute point that allegedly Renoir had a dislike for one of his great uncles.The later chapters of the book had a bit potential, but it really wasn t up to scratch Great as someone s personal notes, but sadly he didn t keep them to himself.


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