(The Hare with Amber Eyes A Family's Century of Art and Loss) [PDF DOWNLOAD] ç Edmund de Waal

Nd 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 homeIn 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 departmentThe installation reuires 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 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 WWIIThe 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 ust where he s going how much time to invest in researching and writing or whether what he s doing is importantThe How Debuggers Work Algorithms Data Structures and Architecture journey is an achievement The author didn t have to go on thisourney but he didAntisemitismAt 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 artWhen 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 gameThe clever uick 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 conseuently 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 and therefore unchecked by public opinion without any stake in the country and therefore reckless he 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 shtetls in the author s great and great great grandfathers 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 precedentIn 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 gapsReligious 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 eg 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 be in terms of what gave up of Jewishness not what they gave from their heritageSometimes 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 impactJuly 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 reviewNews 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 MayJune 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 copypaste but I haven t done that ye. Hunned 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 of the 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 th. The Hare with Amber Eyes A Family's Century of Art and LossT 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 HolocaustThere are already a few reviews on GoodreadsAddendum 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 businessBy 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 warNow what about grain I ve ust 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 uestion 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 controlledIf 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 117Note of 04142014 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 tonesAs 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 ust being costly it would be beyond expensive that is pricelessGrain 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 citizensBack 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 the 1850s A true patriarch he had two sons from his 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 MediterraneanBy 1860 the family had become the greatest grain exporters in the worldThe 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 25And how was this spun It wasn t The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society 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 Franceuive The audicity with which these men treat these enormous operations which for them are ust simple game parties is incredible In one session Michel Ephrussi buys or sells oil or wheat worth ten or fifteen millions No troubleMoney 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 mantlepieceIt 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 
France look like a thenit is the speculator in foreign wheat it is the Jewthe favorite of all the salons of the aristocratic uarter 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 91This 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 Eye. Eir world beyond recognition Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered and Hitler’s theorist on the “Jewish uestion” 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.

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There is so many details in this family memoir written by an illustrious authorartist The title of this book is a netsuke It is one of the many such objects small valuable Japanese miniatures that had semi practical use in Japan when men wore Kimon I started out giving Hare with Amber Eyes four stars but as it settled in I decided to up it to five stars This is a very special book de Waal approaches his extraordinary family history as the artist he is art paintings and especially decorative objects and architecture are all infused with his extraordinary visual and tactile sense I don t use the word extraordinary lightly From the story s beginnings in the shtetl of Berdishev where the Ukraine meets Poland not far from the ancestral home of my own family although all we have in common with the Ephrussi are our roots and our diaspora there are no palaces in European ca This was an interesting read and a fascinating account of the ourney of a group of netsuke through a family history of about 140 years and several generations The ourney moves from Paris to Vienna across Europe through Nazism and to JapanDe 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 wordsThe 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 ust referred to by their first names did anyone know their surnames On the whole it was a fascinating Mapping wild gardens: The symbolic conquest of South Africa (African literatures in English) journey and one I enjoyed 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 poue 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 personalourney an exploration into the complex world of family heritage and inheritanceI 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 artistThe 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 "as it progresses The 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 timeThe 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 
foothold in the banking 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 HolocaustThe penultimate chapter in the netsuke s ourney 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 The Ephrussis were a grand banking family as rich and respected as the Rothschilds who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth century respected as the Rothschilds who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth century and Vienna society Yet by the end of World War II almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 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 exuisite 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