Philosophy in the Garden

Damon Young. Scribe, $18 (208p) ISBN 978-1-950354-07-8
Philosopher Young (The Art of Reading) highlights in this thoughtful work the role of gardens and other green spaces in inspiring great writing and thought. Beginning with Plato, who taught in a sacred olive grove, and his student Aristotle, who used as his classroom a park housing the first botanical garden, Young goes on to cover Colette, Orwell, and Voltaire, among other notable writers. Drawing from primary documents, he imagines Jane Austen, mid-manuscript, escaping the clamor of conversation and household chores at home: she “puts her pen in the inkwell and walks out into Chawton Cottage garden... [and] by the time she returns indoors, with her characteristic businesslike step, the garden has already done her good.” Nietzsche forged some of his profound philosophical assertions outdoors, perhaps most notably in a lemon orchard in Sorrento, where he preferred to stand and ruminate underneath a favorite gedankenbaum, or “thought tree.” If it’s tips for trimming a hedge or pruning a rosebush that are wanted, this volume won’t help. But for readers drawn to learning about the millennia-old tradition of teaching, writing, and thinking in the outdoors, this pithy offering will more than satisfy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/25/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Lifestyle
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