Cover image for Bloom : the botanical vernacular in the English novel
Bloom : the botanical vernacular in the English novel
King, Amy M. (Amy Mae)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
x, 265 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1560 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR830.B68 K56 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Starting from the botanical crazes inspired by Linnaeus in the eighteenth century, and exploring the variations it spawned--natural history, landscape architecture, polemical battles over botany's prurience--this study offers a fresh, detailed reading of the courtship novel from Jane Austen toGeorge Eliot and Henry James. By reanimating a cultural understanding of botany and sexuality that we have lost, it provides an entirely new and powerful account of the novel's role in scripting sexualized courtship, and illuminates how the novel and popular science together created a culturalfigure, the blooming girl, that stood at the center of both fictional and scientific worlds.

Author Notes

Amy M. King is Assistant Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Overall King's book must be judged as uneven, despite a fascinating and unique thesis. King (California Institute of Technology) traces how the botanical systems of Linnaeus and his followers were deeply influenced by social and literary conventions that hardly seem "scientific" by today's standards; at the same time, late 18th- and 19th-century novelists were deeply influenced by botanical science. King argues that the "blooming girl," one of the central figures of the English novel, takes on revitalized meanings when analyzed within the context of the "botanical vernacular" of the period. After successfully establishing this connection, King attempts to provide fresh readings of major novels by Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Henry James. Her readings of Austen and Eliot unfold successfully, although comparing these novelists is difficult, given Eliot's direct engagement with 19th-century science through her extensive reading. King's analyses of James's works are considerably briefer and less convincing. Although her general argument remains compelling, a repetitive and awkwardly self-conscious prose style sometimes mars the development of her analysis. Still, the volume represents a significant and meticulously documented contribution to the study of the interrelations between 19th-century science and literature. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. R. D. Morrison Morehead State University

Table of Contents

Introduction The Girl and the Water Lilyp. 3
1 The Birth of the Botanical Vernacularp. 11
2 Imaginative Literature and the Politics of Botanyp. 48
3 Garden, Landscape, Marriageable Girlp. 73
4 Natural Objects and Revisionary Bloomsp. 132
5 Rewriting the Bloom Script in Jamesp. 187
Coda: Molly's Bloomp. 221
Notesp. 227
Indexp. 259