The Naming of Names


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Bloomsbury USA


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1596910712

9781596910713

384 Pages

$45.00

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The Naming of Names is about the men who searched for the rules of nature’s game. What were plants to be called? What were their similarities and differences? How should they be grouped and ordered? The world was surely more than a random, chaotic jumble, if only the right key could be found to unlock the puzzle. For centuries, this search for order occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe. Beginning in Athens, where Aristotle’s pupil Theophrastus was the first person ever to write a book about plants, the story then moves to the Italian Renaissance, when man’s relationship with nature was radically redefined. Gradually, over a long period in Europe, plants gathered identities. In a world full of plagues and poisons, there was, of course, a practical need to recognize and differentiate between one plant and another: many medicines were made from plants' extracts. But alongside this pharmaceutical reason for wanting to pin the right labels on plants was an urgent desire to make sense of the natural world. Aided by the artists who painted the first pictures of plants, scholars set out along the long road to consensus. Gradually a pan-European network was established, an information exchange that functioned as a kind of early Internet connecting all those who were interested in a better understanding of nature’s gifts. But two thousand years of looking, writing, and theorizing passed before the rules began to emerge. The Naming of Names is a thrilling adventure into botanical history. Anna Pavord travels from Athens in the third century B.C. to Constantinople, and from Venice to the universities of Padua and Pisa. This lush and fascinating history, traced here for the first time, touches on everything from the culture of Islam to the first expeditions to the Indies to the settlers in the New World. Sumptuously illustrated, The Naming of Names is a compelling window into a world full of intrigue and ego.

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Anna Pavord is the gardening correspondent for the Independent and the author of eight previous books, including the bestselling The Tulip. She contributes to a number of magazines, both in the US and the UK and regularly fronts programmes for BBC Radio 3 and 4. She chairs the Gardens Panel of the National Trust and sits on the Parks and Gardens Panel of English Heritage.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Anna Pavord is the gardening correspondent for the Independent and the author of eight previous books, including the bestselling The Tulip. She contributes to a number of magazines, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and regularly hosts programs for BBC Radio. She chairs the Gardens Panel of the National Trust and sits on the Parks and Gardens Panel of English Heritage. She lives in Dorset, England, where she spent thirty years restoring the garden of an old rectory. She is married and has three daughters, and has recently moved to a new house and started another garden.
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