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Earth Perfect?: Nature, Utopia and the Garden Paperback – August 30, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Comprised of eighteen informed and informative essays by experts in the fields, "Earth Perfect?" is deftly organized into six major sections: Being in Nature; Inscribing the Garden; Green House; The Garden Politic; Economies of the Garden; and How Shall We Garden?.  . . . Thoughtful and thought-provoking throughout, "Earth Perfect?" is a seminal work of impressive scholarship throughout and a welcome, highly recommended addition to academic library reference collections."

-- Midwest Book Review

 [This] ambitious and thematically rich collection . . . seeks to address the epistemological status of the garden and its relation to utopian thought through an examination of a diverse array of literary and artistic discourses, geographic sites, and cultural and material practices.  . . . [The volume is] certain to provoke reflection among scholars and professionals in a range of disciplines and occupations on the complex and ever--‐shifting relationship between humanity, the garden, and the natural world. "
--Billy Stratton, Journal of Ecocriticism,  2013

"Alternating between hope and despair, Earth Perfect?  is itself a garden of assorted delights . . . it deals in wide sweeping relevance, with issues that are earth shattering. . . . The pursuit of utopia discussed in these essays is not an arcane, antiseptic abstraction; it is a real and urgent task."  David Gobel, "The Problem of Paradise,"   Marginalia Review of Books, an  LA Review of Books Channel.

Reading Earth Perfect . . .  is much like exploring a vast garden. This patchwork of seventeen essays - some reflective, some more scholarly - is rich and eclectic. . . the utopian imagination comes across compellingly . . .  If only more academic publications had such attractive type-setting, lovely images and elegant design. Moreover, such style is not mere window-dressing, for any book on nature, utopia and the garden should set the senses alight - and Earth Perfect does just that.

Franklin Ginn,  Environment and History

. . .  extensive, gorgeously illustrated, and incredibly diverse . . .  addresses the rich intersections of nature, utopia, and the garden from a multiplicity of angles, many of which provide deeply rewarding reading. . . . while many histories of gardens deal with both the human struggle against nature and the garden designer's ability to evoke divine paradise, few confront head-on the issue of utopia in the garden . . . 
Nathaniel Walker, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

From the Back Cover

Through these joined voices, the garden emerges as a site of contestation and a repository for symbolic, spiritual, social, political and ecological meaning. Questions such as: "What is the role of the garden in defining humanity's ideal relationship with nature?" and "How should we garden in the face of catastrophic ecological decline?" are addressed through wide-ranging case studies, including ancient Roman gardens in Pompeii, Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, the gardens of Versailles, organic farming in New England and Bohemia's secret gardens, and landscape in contemporary architecture. 

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