The Language of Fruit
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The Language of Fruit
Literature and Horticulture in the Long Eighteenth Century

Liz Bellamy

256 pages | 6 x 9 | 25 illus.
Cloth 2019 | ISBN 9780812250831 | $69.95s | Outside the Americas £58.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture

"[A] fascinating work of ecocriticism, illustrating how fruit has been meaningful in the English imaginary over time. In richly detailed prose Bellamy provides insights both diachronic and synchronic, tying together the ways that fruit husbandry in general, and particular fruits such as pears, oranges, pineapples, and melons—as represented in works of literature—convey information about the contemporary society of the authors."—Choice

"Interweaving a bounty of historical details, in-depth literary readings, and engaging illustrations, Liz Bellamy tells a fascinating story about the evolution of raising, eating, thinking, and writing about fruit in the long eighteenth century."—Rebecca Bushnell, University of Pennsylvania

In The Language of Fruit, Liz Bellamy explores how poets, playwrights, and novelists from the Restoration to the Romantic era represented fruit and fruit trees in a period that saw significant changes in cultivation techniques, the expansion of the range of available fruit varieties, and the transformation of the mechanisms for their exchange and distribution. Although her principal concern is with the representation of fruit within literary texts and genres, she nevertheless grounds her analysis in the consideration of what actually happened in the gardens and orchards of the past.

As Bellamy progresses through sections devoted to specific literary genres, three central "characters" come to the fore: the apple, long a symbol of natural abundance, simplicity, and English integrity; the orange, associated with trade and exchange until its "naturalization" as a British resident; and the pineapple, often figured as a cossetted and exotic child of indulgence epitomizing extravagant luxury. She demonstrates how the portrayal of fruits within literary texts was complicated by symbolic associations derived from biblical and classical traditions, often identifying fruit with female temptation and sexual desire. Looking at seventeenth-century poetry, Restoration drama, eighteenth-century georgic, and the Romantic novel, as well as practical writings on fruit production and husbandry, Bellamy shows the ways in which the meanings and inflections that accumulated around different kinds of fruit related to contemporary concepts of gender, class, and race.

Examining the intersection of literary tradition and horticultural innovation, The Language of Fruit traces how writers from Andrew Marvell to Jane Austen responded to the challenges posed by the evolving social, economic, and symbolic functions of fruit over the long eighteenth century.

Liz Bellamy teaches English at City College Norwich and the Open University.

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