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Lead book review

The perils of porcelain – and the pleasures of Edmund de Waal

De Waal’s The White Road finds the history of porcelain manufacture shrouded in secrecy and littered with terrible disasters, says A.S. Byatt

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts Edmund de Waal

Vintage, pp.403, £20, ISBN: 9780701187705

Good pottery appears to be cool and silent — something vulnerable that, with luck, can outlast many human generations. A white porcelain dish seems calm and decorous; one knows that skill went into its evenness, into the exact whiteness, into its lightness. But when I began to think about pots I had no idea of the extreme violence, happenstance and risk that are an intrinsic part of the maker’s art.

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £17 Tel: 08430 600033. A.S. Byatt’s novels include The Biographer’s Tale, The Children’s Book and the Booker-winning Possession.

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