En 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 wasteland 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 Eyes I have ust finished The hare with amber eyes I thought it was one of the most stunning books I d ever readThe language is wonderful The stories in France where Renoir and Proust Hijacking the Brain just pop in as part of the scene oh what a feel for Impressionist France I particularly loved finding out that Charles is that figure in the top hat in the background of Renoir s Luncheon of the Boating Party somehow such a small intimate detail of Charles life has enlivened that painting for me for ever onto Vienna and the magnificence of Vienna and a life so easy and cultured and so European And Freud around the corner Wittgenstein hanging in there somewhere again making alive for me the whole milieu of Vienna before World War 1And then the horror of the growth of the nazis the horror that all happened so uickly who would know that one week you could go to the opera and the next have all taken from you and to be sent away on a train to a death camp To me the most horrific thing was small like the netsuke the book centres on over 600 Jews killed themselves on the night when the Nazis took over in Vienna and went on a rampage of destruction and defilement That will stay with me for ever to live in such horrorAnd in the middle of all the horror incredible beauty Anna s saving the netsuke from the nazi confiscation of all Jewish property And Iggie finding his way to Japan and a Japanese friend and houses with verandahs and drinks in the evening and opera and And the story itself becomes a netsuke I feel it curl in on itself a small beautiful thing that can fit into the palm of my hand where it opens and the longer I hold it Oh my good Lord what did I do that you put me through the torture of reading that bookDid I like it NoIt 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 JapanWith such wonderful chapter starters as It wasn tust Renoir who hated the Jews note no ustification for the accusation whatsoever other than the mute point that allegedly Renoir had a dislike for one of his great unclesThe 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 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 ReichAnd 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 udgment 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 uickly 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 thesaurus to impress the readers Finally some fact checking 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 Denker not Austria etc etc Overall 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 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 af 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 of bookclub fidelity 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 The Path to Gay Rights japanese ornaments made from various woods and stones through their purchase by one of his ancestors in the 1870 s through theirourney 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 ourney 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 ewish men women and children who had been so useful in some situations but now necessary as the traditional scapegoatEdmund de Waal has a simple techniue 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 eually wealthy austrian branch of the family Here they rest in a beautiful showcase their ourney endedno 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 ust 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 uite unable to acknowledge that and indeed the gratitude that they owe to the loyalty of their servants. 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.
Summary Ø PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ¹ Edmund de WaalWe Sell Drugs 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 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 ghettosisn t always evident in this book Jews had only been allowed out of the ghettos 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 remembe. The "Ephrussis were a grand banking family as rich and respected as the Rothschilds "were a grand banking family as rich and respected as the Rothschilds “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 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 ,
R 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 they 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 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 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 Plentifulin years of plentiful Governments don t have that same incentive to success
They Can T Be Thecan t be the 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 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 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 24from those wagons of wheat creaking in from the Ukraine pp 24 how was this spun It wasn t Literature of Africa 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 hidd. 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.