Edmund De Waal, the globally renowned ceramist-artist and the conservator of ceramic artifacts in the Victoria & Albert Museum, who has spent over thirty years crafting magnificent ceramic pots, brings forth his family memoirs for sharing with the beloved brotherhood. The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, the multi-award winning biography, projects the story behind the authors inheritance – a collection comprising of 264 netsuke, little palm-sized Japanese wood and ivory carvings, which the author puts forth as “small, tough explosions of exactitude.” His journey of communication with elements of art has developed in him a sense to seek the source of life in artworks and expressive objects; and so comes to life a desire to know the origin of his inheritance, how the collection came to be his, and how it had managed to survive generations.
He sets on a quest to unravel the legend of the netsuke, and what he encounters is an old truth, a family legend that has made him an object of expression for history. He learns that he descends from the Ephrussis, a wealthy Jewish dynasty of the 19th century, holding respect and prominence amongst the societies of Paris and Vienna, who by the interlude of World War II witnessed their empire being razed by the Nazis. But, a collection of fine artworks survived the dark times and made it till now, safe at the hands of Edmund De Waal – art seeks home after a journey that did only to delay the reunion, little sweat, no sweat.
Edmund goes to the core of history to come out to the otherside where the sole purpose of journey lay waiting to be touched again, only to come as a completed episode. The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance is a splendid work of art that sets to redefine the “detail” in a legend – the history of an inheritance, or a family memoir, or the legend of an art? The author has done justice, both to the history and the art, that soul within the netsuke which had to show itself to all – contentment shared amongst all, a craving dissolves.
The narration is a portal that teleports you to the past, where you are left free to gather all elements, all memories – a scene after the World War II, where it’s the nucleus of art standing rock-still, unaffected by the ripples as another turbulent episode passes by. Edmund shares the secrets pertaining to his inheritance as though he’s sharing his family tales with a family member. A biography that’s very personal in its nature, it tends to speak little about the author’s experience, rather a major portion of the book aims to unravel a forgotten-but-now-rediscovered history. Flavors of Nazi violence and resulting suffering do not do much to disrupt the reader from a pleasant unfolding of secrets, but the book is indeed a chromatic college of emotions, summing up to one experience, one communication.