Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition

Robert Pogue Harrison, Author University of Chicago Press $24 (248p) ISBN 978-0-226-31789-2
Drawing from sources religious, literary and scholarly, Italian literature professor Harrison examines the human quest for happiness through centuries of gardens and gardeners, both real and fictional: ""For millennia and throughout world cultures, our predecessors conceived of human happiness in its perfected state as a garden existence."" Gardens have provided education, creative expression and sanctuary throughout time, yet are ""by nature impermanent creations that only rarely leave behind evidence of their existence."" Epicurus was among those who taught by means of the garden, cultivating patience in his followers: ""a serene acceptance of both what is given and what is withheld by life in the present."" Other subjects include Homer, Camus, Dante and Boccaccio; what gardens in the Bible and the Qur'an say about attitudes toward life and afterlife; and the difficulty of perception in the modern world (""We live in an age... that makes it increasingly difficult to see what is right in front of us""). A fitting follow-up to The Dominion of the Dead, his thoughtful look at mortality, Harrison's latest will give gardeners and nature-lovers a fascinating historical tour and a deeper appreciation for the craft: ""Neither consumption nor productivity fulfills. Only caretaking does.""
Reviewed on: 06/02/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 426 pages - 978-1-4596-0626-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-226-31785-4
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-226-31790-8
Ebook - 263 pages - 978-0-226-31786-1
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