The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal

bookshelves: radio-4, published-2015, autumn-2015, art-forms, history, microhistory, nonfiction

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from September 16 to 26, 2015

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 in London, he starts by travelling to three “white hills”–sites in China, Germany and England that are key to porcelain’s creation. But his search eventually takes him around the globe and reveals more than a history of cups and figurines; rather, he is forced to confront some of the darkest moments of twentieth-century history.
Part memoir, part history, part detective story, The White Road chronicles a global obsession with alchemy, art, wealth, craft and purity. In a sweeping yet intimate style that recalls The Hare with Amber Eyes, de Waal gives us a singular understanding of “the spectrum of porcelain” and the mapping of desire.

1/5: Mount Kao-ling

2/5: Dresden and Tschirnhaus

3/5: Meissen and Bottger

4/5: Tregonning Hill

5/5: Allach

3* The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss
4* The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

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