The Culture of Flowers

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CUP Archive, Feb 25, 1993 - Nature - 462 pages
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Jack Goody's new book takes as its theme the symbolic and transactional uses of flowers in secular life and religious ritual from ancient Egypt to modern times. He links the use of flowers to the rise of advanced systems of agriculture, the growth of social stratification, and the spread of luxury goods, looking at the history of aesthetic horticulture in Europe and Asia. Other themes which emerge are the role of written texts in building up a culture of flowers; the importance of trade and communications in disseminating and transforming attitudes to flowers; the rejection on puritanical grounds of flowers and their artistic representation, and the multiplicity of meanings which flowers possess. Written from a broad temporal and geographical perspective, this original and wide-ranging book will appeal not only to anthropologists and social historians but also to anyone interested in flowers and their symbolic function across the centuries.

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The culture of flowers

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"Culture'' in this context refers not to cultivation but to cultural anthropology. The title is unfortunate, as readers are apt to think that this book is about flower growing. A less ambiguous title ... Read full review


gardens and paradise garlands
The decline of flower culture in Europe
Flowers without representation in Islam
The return of the rose in medieval Western Europe
Icons and iconoclasm in the Renaissance
The growth of the market
The Americanisation of the foreign mind
The popular culture of flowers in Europe
the marigold and the jasmine
The four gentlemen of flowers in China
the New Year in South
A distant reading

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About the author (1993)

Jack Goody is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John's College. Recently knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for services to anthropology, Professor Goody has researched and taught all over the world, is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 1980 was made a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and he was elected Commandeur des Arts et Lettres in 2006.

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