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The Hare with the Amber Eyes :  A Hidden Inheritance - Edmund de Waal

The Hare with the Amber Eyes

A Hidden Inheritance

Paperback Published: 1st March 2011
ISBN: 9780099539551
Number Of Pages: 368

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The history of a family through 264 objects - set against a turbulent century - from an acclaimed writer and potter

264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. Later, when Edmund inherited the 'netsuke', they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined...The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the 1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in Paris. Marcel Proust was briefly his secretary and used Charles as the model for the aesthete Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

Charles' passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when Japanese objects were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna. Later, three children - including a young Ignace - would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion.

Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, smuggled out of the huge Viennese palace (then occupied by Hitler's theorist on the 'Jewish Question'), one piece at a time, in the pocket of a loyal maid - and hidden in a straw mattress. In this stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

And, in prose as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves, he tells the story of a unique collection which passed from hand to hand - and which, in a twist of fate, found its way home to Japan.

About the Author

Edmund de Waal's porcelain is shown in many museum collections round the world and he has recently made installations for the V&A and Tate Britain. He was apprenticed as a potter, studied in Japan and read English at Cambridge. He is Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster and lives in London with his family.

Industry Reviews

"[A] wonderful book" -- Dame Felicity Lott * Waitrose Weekend *
"From a hard and vast archival mass...Mr de Waal has fashioned, stroke by minuscule stroke, a book as fresh with detail as if it had been written from life, and as full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver." * The Economist *
"This remarkable book... a meditation on touch, exile, space and the responsibility of inheritance... like the netsuke themselves, this book is impossible to put down. you have in your hands a masterpiece." -- Frances Wilson * The Sunday Times *
"Few writers have ever brought more perception, wonder and dignity to a family story as has Edmund de Waal in a narrative that beguiles from the opening sentence" -- Eileen Battersby * Irish Times *
"Part treasure hunt, part family saga, Edmund de Waal's richly original memoir spans nearly two centuries and covers half the world" * Evening Standard *

A truly marvellous read.


I felt like I was in the presence of a cultured, experienced and educated man whilst reading this wonderful book. I would love to invite him to dinner.



Superb and provocative read


This is a thought provoking and wonderfully readable account of an important family history. More than a century of momentous events, and how they change, literally, the family fortunes, is examined in a novel and sympathetic way. A very worthy Costa prize winner.

Bordeaux France




Had heard many great things about this book, but reading it felt like wading through treacle.





I thought this story was about the collection of netsuke but it was really about the history of a Jewish family and about their tragic journey from the beginning of World War !!.

Queensland, Australia


The Hare with the Amber Eyes

3.5 4


Family Treep. x
Prefacep. 1
Paris 1871-1899
Le West Endp. 21
Un lit de paradep. 33
'A mahout to guide her'p. 38
'So light, so soft to the touch'p. 44
A box of children's sweetsp. 55
A fox with inlaid eyes, in woodp. 62
The yellow armchairp. 67
Monsieur Elstir's asparagusp. 72
Even Ephrussi fell for itp. 82
My small profitsp. 90
A 'very brilliant five o'clock'p. 97
Vienna 1899-1938
Die Potemkinische Stadtp. 111
Zionstrassep. 121
History as it happensp. 126
'A large square box such as children draw'p. 138
'Liberty Hall'p. 145
The sweet young thingp. 154
Once upon a timep. 165
Types of the Old Cityp. 169
Heil Wien! Heil Berlin!p. 178
Litetally zerop. 202
You must change your lifep. 212
Eldorado 5-0050p. 222
Vienna, Kövesces, Tunbridge Wells, Vienna 1938-1947
'An ideal spot for mass marches'p. 237
'A never-to-be-repeated opportunity'p. 248
'Good for a single journey'p. 260
The tears of thingsp. 269
Anna's pocketp. 277
'All quite openly, publicly and legally'p. 284
Tokyo 1947-2001
Takenokop. 293
Kodachromep. 301
Where did you get them?p. 312
The real Japanp. 319
On polishp. 327
Coda: Tokyo, Odessa, London 2001-2009
Jirop. 333
An astrolabe, a menzula, a globep. 336
Yellow/gold/redp. 345
Acknowledgementsp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780099539551
ISBN-10: 0099539551
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st March 2011
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 12.9  x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.35
Edition Number: 1

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