The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance - Edmund de Waal The Hare with Amber Eyes is one of the most original books I have ever read.It was a compulsory read for an auto/biography course I'm taking and I can see how it will spark intriguing discussion when we get to talking about it (if people dare speak up this time, that is..) It is hard to define what exactly the book is about. Its author - Edmund de Waal - has trouble categorising the book himself, admitting in the final pages that 'I no longer know if this book is about my family, or memory, or myself, or is still a book about small Japanese things' (342). My guess is that it was a little bit of all those things and it was absolutely fine by me.One of the most magnificent things about this book was, I found, how the scope of the story is so huge and intimately small at the same time. He follows the netsuke collection throughout history, simultaneously exploring the lives of ancestors who owned it. It was a pleasant surprise that he was apt, too, in transferring the greater artistic and political atmosphere at the time periods he touches upon. For someone who was largely oblivious of the specific history he discussed, I was able to envisage well many of the scenes he laid out in his book. I think that serves as a compliment to the author. :)De Waal's being an artist at heart felt essential to me, as in one of his latest travels he (perhaps unwittingly) contrasts himself against his fast-paced brother who noticed less the feel or detail of a room, for example. Edmund de Waal has a feel for describing the atmosphere of a Europe long gone and revokes it - or admits he cannot imagine it - in the sincerest way.I am quite sure I would not easily have chosen this book to read, had it not been compulsory. Whereas I am often frustrated by the limits to my knowledge, the Hare with Amber Eyes made me reconsider my interest in history in many of its forms. Art history, genealogical history and its psychological impact, as well as living in the Europe of the past, are all areas this book made me significantly more curious about and want to explore further.