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The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination (Hardback)
  • The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination (Hardback)
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The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination (Hardback)

(author)
£20.00
Hardback 386 Pages / Published: 22/10/2015
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In Richard Mabey's characteristically lyrical and informative tone, The Cabaret of Plants explores plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken that cliched but real human emotion of wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief. Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab, whose swollen trunks store thousands of litres of water - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower. From Ice Age artists, to the Romantic poets, via colonialism and the nineteenth century botanical mania of empire, Mabey concludes his magnum opus with the latest revelations of possible 'plant intelligence' in this extraordinary collection of encounters between plants and people.

Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781861976628
Number of pages: 386
Weight: 1103 g
Dimensions: 244 x 162 x 32 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS
Mabey is -- or should be -- a national treasure ... the finest current flowering of a great British traditions that includes not just prose writers but also the poets William Wordsworth and John Clare... like being taken aside by a complete stranger who talks as if you have known each other for years... it makes you feel that your home is much bigger and stranger than you ever imagined and it makes you glad -- no, astounded -- to be alive. * The Sunday Times *
The greatest writer on nature alive... [Mabey] fuses botany, art and literature into a prose which is interrogative, pungent and urgently alive. * The Evening Standard *
The nation's favourite nature writer. * Sunday Telegraph *
Our greatest nature writer... a true Renaissance man of botany, effortlessly bridging the divides between science and literature, history and psychology, forensic examination and sheer exultation at how plants are central to our lives. -- Fred Pearce * New Scientist *
Wonderfully thought-provoking... of all his 30-plus books this is surely among his finest, an eclectic world-roaming collection of stories... lacing colour, intimacy and emotional texture around the scaffold of hard facts. * The Spectator *
His language is as rich as the flora he describes... each interaction between plant and people has its own story and each in Mabey's hands, with his frame of cultural and historical reference, is one of satisfying richness... he makes his case utterly convincingly: plants are not just individuals but indeed rather more interesting ones than many people. -- Michael Prodger * The Times *
This is the nature-writing equivalent of fine dining -- rich, full of different tastes, lasting and satisfying -- as Richard Mabey, perhaps our greatest nature writer. A treat not to miss... the prose is so gorgeous it makes you want to clap... go, buy it, and feast. Botany rocks! -- Dominic Couzens * BBC Countryfile *
Mr Mabey is the kind of person you wish you had with you on every country walk, identifying, explaining, deducing, drawing on deep knowledge lightly worn. * Country Life *
As a celebrant of the botanical, Richard Mabey has few peers. He is on eloquent form in this portrayal of plants not as dully functional components of natural capital -- a "biological proletariat" -- but as unruly, autonomous and endlessly fascinating. This engaging scientific and cultural tour takes in ice-age engravings of plant forms; ancients and giants such as bristlecone pines and baobabs; the vast biodiversity of maize (corn); and, as touched on by plant scientist Ian Baldwin (Nature 522, 282-283; 2015), Erasmus Darwin's discovery of "irritability" in Mimosa pudica more than 200 years ago. -- Andrew Jermy * Nature Microbiology *
Enraptured, visionary, witty and erudite * Daily Telegraph *
In its imaginatively bold and scientifically risky way, Cabaret is the summation of a lifetime of looking at plants and reflecting on them...The book reads as a happy tangle of beautiful stories and studies from a career that has stepped between science and poetry... We are lucky to have him. He has changed the way we are with plants and made a loved world lovelier still. -- Tim Dee * The Observer *
One of this century's most influential passages of natural history writing [...] meticulously detailed and rhapsodically narrated [...] a magnificent book. -- Mark Griffiths * Country Life *
Sharp-eyed, anecdotal, vivid and probing. * Times Literary Supplement *
Exquisitely designed, with beautiful illustrations... an extraordinary insight into the intertwined history of humans, the arts, science, and the natural world. A great introduction to to those who thirst for knowledge on the wonders and discoveries of botany... effortlessly bridges the divides between culture, arts, science, literary, history and psychology... [Mabey]'s excellent prose will open people's eyes to the fundamental and vital role that plants play in our culture, existence and survival. * The Garden (RHS) *

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