By Amy King
Ranging from the botanical crazes encouraged by way of Linnaeus within the eighteenth century, and exploring the differences it spawned--natural background, panorama structure, polemical battles over botany's prurience--this examine deals a clean, specific interpreting of the courtship novel from Jane Austen to George Eliot and Henry James. by way of reanimating a cultural realizing of botany and sexuality that we've got misplaced, it presents a wholly new and robust account of the novel's function in scripting sexualized courtship, and illuminates how the unconventional and well known technological know-how jointly created a cultural determine, the blooming woman, that stood on the middle of either fictional and clinical worlds.
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Additional info for Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel
And Mrs. Bennet, Charlotte and Mr. Collins, the Bertrams— while in general Austen is more apt to create social conﬁgurations of marital b lo o m absence (she is fond of parents who are widows and widowers). Not only does the marriage plot foreground the blooming girl and courtship but it also creates narrative conditions that make the representation of an established marriage less likely. We can see in the representational strategies of the marriage plot the structural limitations that Linnaeus placed on his classiﬁcation scheme; in both, blooms are central.
Linnaeus endows the plant with sentient features generally associated with the human; he provides scientiﬁc accounts of plant irritability, pleasure, movement, and sensitivity. In describing the ﬂower—the designation for the grouping of the corolla, calyx, ﬁlaments, antherae, pollen, stigma, style, german, pericarpium, and seeds— Linnaeus in Philosophia Botanica () suggests the following: “The Calyx then is the marriage bed, the corolla the curtains, the ﬁlaments the spermatic vessels, the antherae the testicles, the dust [pollen] the male sperm, the stigma the labia or the extremity of the female organ, the style the vagina, the german the ovary, the pericarpium the ovary impregnated, the seeds the ovula or eggs” (PB, ).
What the classiﬁcatory system does is conﬂate the sexual or reproductive act—whatever its conﬁguration, among just two or multiple stamens and pistils—with marriage, effectively turning marriage into a shorthand for sex. Although on the one hand Linnaeus’s system is part of a repressive regime, one that takes a diversity of potential sexual pairings and social conﬁgurations and turns them all into husbands and wives, one can also see that Linnaeus’s system opens up the possibility of heterosexual marriage deﬁned primarily by sexuality and not by its status as a social institution.
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