Philosophy in the Garden
Why did Marcel Proust have bonsai beside his bed? What was Jane Austen doing, coveting an apricot? How was Friedrich Nietzsche inspired by his 'thought tree'?
In Philosophy in the Garden, Damon Young explores one of literature's most intimate relationships: authors and their gardens. For some, the garden provided a retreat from workaday labor; for others, solitude's quiet counsel. For all, it played a philosophical role: giving their ideas a new life. What unites the authors--Proust, Woolf, Colette, Rousseau, Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Kazantzakis--portrayed in Philosophy in the Garden is not any one ideal, but a devotion to the garden itself: to its philosophical fertility. Despite being bookworms and paper moths, they did some of their best thinking al fresco. (Even Jean-Paul Sartre, whose hero in Nausea was sickened by a chestnut tree.)
Philosophy in the Garden reveals the profound thoughts discovered in parks, backyards, and pot-plants. It does not provide tips for mowing overgrown couch grass, or mulching a dry Japanese maple. It is a philosophical companion to the garden's labors and joys.
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About the Author
Damon Young is a prize-winning philosopher and writer. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including The Art of Reading, How to Think About Exercise, Beating and Nothingness, and Distraction. His works have been translated into eleven languages, and he has also written poetry, short fiction, and children's fiction. Young is an Associate in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.
"A gentle dig for ideas about how to live--this book will grow your mind and put a glow in your cheeks."
--Deborah Levy, author of Swimming Home
"Erudite, yet witty and accessible, [Philosophy in the Garden] is intellectual history at its most completely pleasurable."
--Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote
"A brilliant philosophical and literary meditation that helps us rethink our relationship with the natural world--and with ourselves."
--Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy and How to Find Fulfilling Work
"This is a gardening book that takes readers not on a walk around great estates but on a tour of great minds...It's a lovely extension on the notion that gardens make you contemplative and in working with the soil you see life's big picture."
"[T]hought-provoking...a fine book."
"[F]or readers drawn to learning about the millennia-old tradition of teaching, writing, and thinking in the outdoors, this pithy offering will more than satisfy."