From Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Marcel Proust, from Marguerite Duras to George Sand, from Colette to Patrick Modiano, gardens appear in novels as representations of the real world, but also as reflections of the imagination. In Paper Gardens: A Stroll through French Literature, Évelyne Bloch-Dano contemplates the role of the garden in the work of great prose writers, ruminating on how the garden can variously symbolize a reflection of the soul, a well-earned rest, an improving form of work, a nostalgia for childhood, and the dream of an ideal world.
The charming and erudite first section focuses on history and is devoted to types of gardens ranging from the biblical Garden of Eden to English parklands; the second perceptively considers their role in literary works. Concealed within these cultivated wanderings is also an element of autobiography. Lovers of literature and gardening alike will fall in love with this beautifully written meditation.