Olive Schreiner’s Poetics of Plants

Olive Schreiner’s Poetics of Plants

A gorgeous 2019 short book by famed Schreiner scholar Dorothy Driver has just arrived from South Africa and landed in my post tray, Olive Schreiner’s Poetics of Plants. The idea is simple but brilliant, that Schreiner was immensely influenced by and frequently mentioned or made use of things to do with plants and flowers in her writing, with Driver‘s text teasing out many of these references and the ramifications. She shows persuasively that  Schreiner knew her plants and used them in numerous metaphorical and symbolic as well as literal ways. The result is to throw new and illuminating light on Schreiner’s ideas and writing and makes a significant contribution to new thinking about this.

The book, around 45 high quality pages long, is illustrated by brilliant photographs – brilliant both because they are beautifully photographed and because they are of such gorgeous plants and flowers, with various of them copyright of Catherine Knox, who also played a wider part in the book’s genesis. It was published by AMAZWI South African Museum of Literature earlier this year, timed to be launched at the annual Karoo Writers Festival in Cradock in the Eastern Cape. It’s a privilege to say that I was invited to provide a Foreword, which, as forewords do, exists as a kind of short letter from me as a reader who came before the published text, to the likely readers of this book: it’s excellent, go on, read it! It will be published next year in the UK by Edinburgh University Press. Until then, contact AMAZWI.

Last updated:  4 September 2019


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