The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by Edmund De Waal

Hardcover, 2015




Knopf Canada (2015), 416 pages


In this volume, Edmund de Waal travels the globe to tell the story of his obsession with porcelain, or 'white gold', and the lure it held for the Europeans who encountered it: from Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century China, via the palaces of Versailles and Dresden, to the chemist shops of 18th-century Plymouth, the settlements of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, and the darkest moments of 10th-century history. Within all this is an intimate memoir of the author's life as a potter, and his deepening understanding of the material he has worked with for over 45 years.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bostonian71
Not as cohesive as De Waal's previous book, "The Hare with the Amber Eyes". That memoir had the advantage of having concrete things (his family and the netsuke they owned) to tie everything together. "The White Road", on the other hand, follows an idea -- the "porcelain" sickness -- as it manifested itself in various spots around the world, and led to such pottery being invented over and over. Such hopping from one place to another and one time to another (as well as interludes about De Waal's own forays into the craft) makes for a somewhat disjointed narrative. There's a lot of interesting information, though, , even if some of it, most notably Hitler's obsession with pure white pottery, is disturbing. And De Waal clearly cares about his subject, so much so that I wish this book had less of him rushing around learning about the history of his art, and more of him in the studio actually making it.… (more)
LibraryThing member lesleynicol
Another book in my library that remains unfinished, I so enjoyed the authors previous book "The Hare with Amber Eyes" and expected a story about people associated with the history of porcelain. I was disappointed.
LibraryThing member rakerman
An interesting journey through the physical world and intellectual world related to the creation of porcelain. Art, science and history. Can be a bit too much about the process of writing of the book itself at times.



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