Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel

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Starting from the botanical craze 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 to George 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 sexualised courtship, and illuminates how the novel and popular science together created a cultural figure, the blooming girl, that stood at the centre of both fictional and scientific worlds.