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Edmund de Waal
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Den vita vägen : en berättelse om porslinets historia och själ

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  764 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Extraordinary new non-fiction, a gripping blend of history and memoir, by the author of the award-winning and bestselling international sensation, 'The Hare with Amber Eyes'.

In 'The White Road', bestselling author and artist Edmund de Waal gives us an intimate narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or "white gold." A potter who has been working with po
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published 2017 by Brombergs bokförlag AB (first published 2015)
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3.76  · 
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 ·  764 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: In The White Road, bestselling author and artist Edmund de Waal gives us an intimate narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or "white gold." A potter who has been working with porcelain for more than forty years, de Waal describes how he set out on five journeys to places where porcelain was dreamed about, refined, collected and coveted--and that would help him understand the clay's mysterious allure. From his studio
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
As a ceramicist who has worked with clay for the past 25 years creating slender and delicate pots, all things white are an passion for de Waal. This book is a physical and spiritual journey to the places and origins of these materials that fuse together to create the translucent, ethereal material that is porcelain. His desire is to hold the raw materials in his own hands, to climb the hills where the white earth is dug from, to possess a pot made that place.

China was the place where porcelain w
Friederike Knabe
Edmund de Waal takes you on an investigative journey in search of the mysteries of discovery and history of porcelain. As the title intimates it is indeed a journey of an obsession. While his time traveling in search of the villages and descendants of the potters of the past and glory days of Chinese porcelain creating, I find that de Waal's descriptions were too detailed and intricate for any reader not as engaged with the subject matter as he was. In addition to his travels in China he spends ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This is a really unique book. When you first start reading it, you think it is just about porcelain (this is of a lot of interest to me, as both of my parents used to be potters), but, once you start reading the book, it turns into so much more: history, a bit of a mystery, and more. It deal with a lot of issues, and I like how the book blends several genres into one. Well-written, interesting to read, and kept me turning the pages, wanting to know more.
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Author of The Hare With Amber Eyes potter Edmund de Waal's new book on the history of porcelain.

On a personal pilgrimage to the countries and people who make porcelain, the author's first stop is China and Jingdezhen, the city of porcelain.

Episode 2/5: The author travels back in in time to Dresden and explores the dramatic events which led to the creation of European porcelain.

Episode 3/5: Imprisoned in Meissen castle, young alchemist, Johann Freidrich Bottger
Nene La Beet
His bestseller The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss is an all-time favourite of mine and I gave it five stars without hesitation. When I learned that he'd written a new book, this time about porcelain, I bought it immediately. And I've tried and tried and tried to like it, to get through it! But at page 278 I gave up :-(

What's wrong with this one? It's not the porcelain as a subject - I find it fascinating. But the build-up of the book doesn't work for me and where in The
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading De Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes I was intrigued to read this book on porcelain. I know he is a potter, I’ve looked up his work. It’s good, very plain, but very beautiful too.

This book is about the history of porcelain, where it comes from and why white is so attractive to us. For the most part it’s quite an interesting read. But there are parts that can get a bit boring. Unless you are a massive porcelain/pottery fan, I think most people would find it hard going.

I really e
Vivek Tejuja
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It had been a while since I had read a good non-fiction and I am very picky when it comes to this genre. The book has to be a solid one or I will just drop it and not read further. Life is too short to read badly written books. I loved Edmund de Waal’s earlier book “The Hare with the Amber Eyes” (Please read it if you haven’t already. Trust me, you will love it as well). This is when I received his new book to read “The White Road: Journey into an Obsession”. How does one describe this book? The ...more
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mylibrary
When I plucked this lovely looking book* from the shelf in the bookshop I assumed, for no accountable reason, that it was a novel. I realised my mistake as soon as I started reading, but within a couple of paragraphs I was completely hooked. Who could possibly imagine the history of porcelain to be so interesting? A marvellous book, full of historical information and fascinating anecdotes. De Waal's enthusiasm and passion for his subject is undeniably infectious, despite the fact that reading th ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you share de Waal's obsession with porcelain, you will be fascinated. I do; I am. Plain pottery is perfectly serviceable, you can drink your tea out of it just fine. The plates hold dinner just fine. So why this centuries-long pursuit of a plate you can hold up to the light and see the shadow of your hand through it, that you can tap smartly with a pencil and it rings like a crystal bell...Some of the stories are well known, like the mad scientist and the wacky apothecary assistant virtually ...more
Taylor Zartman
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that I have finished this book and successfully taught a class on it and porcelain and no longer feel deep resentment about having to read it, I can honestly say this book was incredibly insightful and the most I've ever learned about porcelain in one text while also being enjoyable to read. This book is self-aggrandizing and overly precious, much like porcelain itself. And it able to be self-reflexive about these traits. It leaves you feeling all the complicated feelings that the imperial, ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You don't have to be a ceramic artist to relish this book, but it probably helps. I savoured every page knowing that as I turned each one, I would be re-reading it at least one more time in order to squeeze more value from it.

Oh for more books of this ilk!
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most interesting whip round the history of porcelain making.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book or find it illuminating, but this guy’s ego is.... whoa. like shut the fuck up sometimes. best part by far is the section on alchemy (part two) and may be worth reading for this section alone
Mel Raschke
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author travels to China to the White Hills to continue his obsession with porcelain. Glad I chose this book. Not really what I would have picked but I saw the author on Sunday Morning and I became interested then.
Dec 30, 2017 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Gagniéres-Fonthill vase:
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

The white road of the title is the tale of the authors trek across several continents on the trail of porcelain. Along the way we meet those at the heart of this great story - Augustus in Dresden, Cookworthy in Plymouth, Wedgwood in Stoke - and the history of this substance against the background of events. The struggle to make porcelain in Nazi Germany. In the GDR. In Mao's China.
A wonderful saga that should enthral even those like me with no knowledge of porcelain.
Yet again De Waal writes a
Angus Mcfarlane
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am, like the author, a massive fan of porcelain. I too ask the question 'who could not be obsessed with porcelain', apart from James Joyce (apparently) and 'most people' that is. I believe, of course, that people just haven't yet had the chance to learn, as I have, what the mystery of white is all about. Which is why I take the chance to lift plates to the light, in private or public, to remind myself of the art and science that makes a plate. Nature's detritus, transmuted into treasure, a kin ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Edmund de Waal made his literary mark with The Hare with Amber Eyes (2009), a very readable narrative of his family history set in Paris and Vienna, taking the family netsuke collection as its anchor. Having enjoyed the earlier book, I approached this one with high expectations.

However, The White Road is quite a different beast. It is incredibly diffuse, both thematically and in its prose. Without the very specific anchor of the netsuke, de Waal seems to drift from one alluring topic to the next
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The White Road: Journey into an Obsession (De Waal, 2015)

[The shorter summary:]
De Waal's second autobiography is to be read with your thinking cap on as he wanders through the history of porcelain in the five parts of the world where porcelain was discovered or invented, and he also reveals the working mind of a modern potter. To write this memoire, De Waal not only physically visits the sites where porcelain shaped lives, but he has the knack of intertwining the various steps which he as a pott
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, art, non-fiction
I was pretty certain that it would be difficult to top de Waal's last book, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, which was my favorite book of 2012, but this book has certainly come close.

de Waal, a renowned ceramicist, explores the various spots along the "White Road" of porcelain. The road takes him to China, Dresden, Meissen, Cornwall, South Carolina and Dachau, among other places, and in his travels he explores how the quest for the perfect white influenced the hist
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the feel of this book, the delicate marks inside on the pages and his chapter titles and paragraph divisions. It is beautifully assembled and part of the pleasure of reading this book is the physical aspect of holding and seeing it.
All which would be completely absent were it to be read digitally.
His story meanders which only caused my mind to wander about halfway through, more my fault than the author's.
A very soothing and meditative read.
A lovely cover and I also thought the black &
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, but I wonder if having read The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss first was what made this seem a little self-conscious at times; EdW trying very hard to write consistently like EdW, and telling us aaaaaall about it too, down to his coffee consumption affecting sentence length.
Merideth Lee
I did not enjoy this as much as The Hare with Amber Eyes. It took me a long time to read this book, I dipped in and out of it as I found it quite slow and disjointed. It was interesting though I did not feel particularly engaged by the book.
another masterpiece by de waal, chronicling the history of porcelain in china, france, germany, and england, and his obsession with it as his own art making and its essence.
de waal is that good, to write about netsuke, and now 'pottery' with care, for the object and for the reader.
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Patchy. At its best engages history and reflections on the making of porcelain well. At its worse degenerates to disconnected dot points. Surprisingly the British history is the least well written aspect of the book. Needed lots more illustrations. Those used were not especially apt.
Abridge audio from BBC radio.
Quite interesting but far too brief when abridge. Bottiger sounds like an interesting person that I would love to read more about.
Terry Pitts
The White Road is a passionate, digressive history of porcelain, the prized white pottery formed by clay first found in Jingdezhen, China more than 1,000 years ago. As Chinese porcelain started to come onto European markets, kings, royals, and rich collectors created a hunger for porcelain that led alchemists and other to try to find the secret to porcelain and make a European version. This led to the establishment of the famous factory in Meissen and, eventually, other in other Continental citi ...more
After I read "The Hare With the Amber Eyes", I knew I stumbled on something truly promising and unique, even though I wasn't completely in love with the book originally. After constantly thinking about it, remembering de Waal's thrilling writing, I knew that I not only had to grab myself a copy, but I would also want to read whatever de Waal writes next.

Now that I think of it, de Waal can be credited with my current fascination, and even obsession, with porcelain, which was accelerated by a cou
Beatrice Otto
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'This bowl was made by someone I didn’t know, in conditions I can only imagine, for functions that I may have got wrong. But the act of reimagining it by picking it up is an act of remaking.' (p. 5)

The White Road is an exploration of making, a book in itself finely made. De Waal is first and foremost a potter, but he concluded that makers need to get out of their studios and workshops and write about the process and benefits of making things.

The pilgrimage of the title is the quest for whiteness
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Edmund de Waal describes himself as a 'potter who writes'. His porcelain has been displayed in many museum collections around the world and he has recently made a huge installation for the dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Edmund was apprenticed as a potter, studied in Japan, and read English Literature at Cambridge University. 'The Hare with Amber Eyes', a journey through the hist ...more
“And so you paint pagodas and carp and phoenixes, but you also paint English country houses, and churches and coats of arms, the crucifixion, inscriptions in Persian and Arabic, carnations and tulips, mottos in Latin and knights in armour and Andromeda. v” 0 likes
“The connoisseurs sniff, categorise, rank, price, demote.
Celadons, the colour caught between green and blue, get sky after rain, and kingfishers, and iced water, all of which are lyrical.”
More quotes…