Richard Aitken: The Garden of Ideas

‘Mower is less’

Luke Morgan


The Garden of Ideas: Four Centuries of Australian Style
by Richard Aitken
Miegunyah Press, $64.99 hb, 255 pp, 9780522857504


When Bouvard and Pécuchet suddenly become enamoured of landscape design in Flaubert’s novel of 1881, and decide to remodel their own garden, they are bewildered by the ‘infinity of styles’ that are available to them. After much deliberation and research, they decide to install an Etruscan tomb with an inscription, a Rialto, a Chinese pagoda, a mount, and topiary in the shape of peacocks, stags, pyramids, and armchairs. Despite these ‘improvements’, however, when Bouvard and Pécuchet proudly unveil the garden for the first time at dinner, their guests fail to respond as they had hoped; that is, according to predetermined categories of response, which include the Melancholy or Romantic, the Exotic, the Pensive, the Mysterious, and the Fantastic.

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Published in March 2011 no. 329
Luke Morgan

Luke Morgan

Dr Luke Morgan is a Senior Lecturer in Art Theory in the Faculty of Art & Design at Monash University. The University of Pennsylvania Press published his book Nature as Model on the French architect and polymath Salomon de Caus in 2007. He has written essays, articles and reviews for journals, books and exhibition catalogues on a wide range of other topics, from Italian Baroque painting to modern and contemporary art and design. Luke is on the editorial board of the international quarterly Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes and has been an editorial advisor to the Australian Book Review.

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