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Paper Gardens

A Stroll through French Literature
Evelyne Bloch-Dano. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Foreword by Alice Kaplan

BUY Ebook · 240 pp. · ISBN 9780813940274 · $24.95 · Apr 2018
BUY Cloth · 240 pp. · 5 × 8 · ISBN 9780813940250 · $24.95 · Apr 2018

From Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Marcel Proust, from Marguerite Duras to George Sand, from Colette to Patrick Modiano, gardens appear in novels as representations of the real world, but also as reflections of the imagination. In Paper Gardens: A Stroll through French Literature, Évelyne Bloch-Dano contemplates the role of the garden in the work of great prose writers, ruminating on how the garden can variously symbolize a reflection of the soul, a well-earned rest, an improving form of work, a nostalgia for childhood, and the dream of an ideal world.

The charming and erudite first section focuses on history and is devoted to types of gardens ranging from the biblical Garden of Eden to English parklands; the second perceptively considers their role in literary works. Concealed within these cultivated wanderings is also an element of autobiography. Lovers of literature and gardening alike will fall in love with this beautifully written meditation.


A charming book that’s erudite, bucolic, and delightful at once.

Version Femina

Évelyne Bloch-Dano tells with much empathy what gardens, whether real or on paper, reveal of writers’ imaginary.

Figaro littéraire

The author of several award-winning French-language biographies, Évelyne Bloch-Dano now turns her talents to an overview and analysis of the roles of the garden in French literature. This charmingly detailed account includes a history of types and styles of gardens, both literary and literal, before examining the various places gardens appear in French literary history, 'from Proust to Duras.'

World Literature Today Magazine

About the Author(s): 

Évelyne Bloch-Dano is a prizewinning and widely translated author whose most notable works include the biographies Madame Zola (1997, Elle magazine's Grand prix des lectrices), Flora Tristan: La femme-messie (2001, Prix François Billetdoux), Madame Proust (2004, Prix Renaudot de l'essai), and Le Dernier amour de George Sand (2010) as well as many other titles. Teresa Lavender Fagan is a freelance translator living in Chicago. Alice Kaplan is the John M. Musser Professor of French at Yale University and the author of Dreaming in French.

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