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The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants

by

The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An exhilarating new book from the author of the worldwide bestseller The Tulip.

 

The Naming of Names traces the search for order in the natural world, a search that for hundreds of years occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe.

 

Redefining mans relationship with nature was a major pursuit during the Renaissance.  But in a world full of poisons, there was also an urgent practical need to name and recognize different plants, because most medicines were made from plant extracts.

 

Anna Pavord takes us on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, traveling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua. The journey, traced here for the first time, involves the culture of Islam, the first expeditions to the Indies and the first settlers in the New World.

 

In Athens, Aristotles pupil Theophrastus was the first man ever to write a book about plants.  How can we name, sort, and order them? He asked.  The debate continues still, two thousand years later.  Sumptuously illustrated in full colour, The Naming of Names gives a compelling insight into a world full of intrigue and intensely competitive egos.

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.
The Naming of Names is about the men who searched for the rules of natures 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 Aristotles pupil Theophrastus was the first person ever to write a book about plants, the story then moves to the Italian Renaissance, when mans 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 natures 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.
"With this book, British author Pavord quashes any notion that the history of plant taxonomy is a dull pursuit. Her story covers 2000 years of the search for order in the plant world, beginning in third-century B.C.E. Greece with Aristotle's great pupil Theophrastus and ending in late 17th-century England with the man who coined the word botany, John Ray. Her crisp prose is complemented by lavish, full-color illustrations . . . The Renaissance developments are especially fascinating: the spectacular refinement of plant illustration in herbals, the establishment of botanical gardens, and the flood of new plant discoveries that came with the advent of world navigation. Pavord demonstrates convincingly how, from about the 15th century on, plants came to be an object of interest for their intrinsic value, not just for their medicinal, nutritive, or ritual purposes. There is much here for readers of all sorts, making this book a solid choice for large public collections. It is also highly recommended for special and academic collections."—Library Journal

Review:

"Pavord, author of the The Tulip and an expert gardener, traces the history of plant taxonomy from the ancient Greeks to 17th-century British botanist John Ray in this hefty tome, and though her passion for plants is apparent on every page, readers who don't share the same level of enthusiasm will be frustrated by Pavord's encyclopedic approach. Pavord, in prose as rich and colorful as the too-infrequent illustrations, contextualizes plant classification within larger intellectual, political and cultural spheres, but she verges dangerously close to writing a textbook; the vast amount of information she packs into brief, rapid-fire sections can overwhelm. In the best sections, she slows down to draw detailed portraits of researchers and describe how each contributed to the slowly evolving (and, until the late 1600's, unnamed) science of botany. Ray, for instance, marked 'a quiet, lonely, dogged consummation' with 'no fireworks, no claps of thunder, no swelling symphonic themes' when, shortly before his death and suffering from gangrene, he penned the six fundamental rules of botany. Pavord's prose dazzles, but it's not enough to carry readers with a casual interest in plants or gardening through an otherwise dense history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Gardening correspondent for the British newspaper Independent, and author of eight books, Pavord traces the efforts to establish names for plants in such a way that other people would be able to identify them, and in a way that placed them in the larger scheme of the known world. She begins with Theophrastus in the fourth century BC, and concludes with the beginnings of what is now modern taxonomy in the late 17th century. Her stories are built around specific people. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Anna Pavord takes readers on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, traveling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua to reveal man's quest to sort, name, and order plants.

Synopsis:

An exhilarating new book from the author of the worldwide bestseller The Tulip.

The Naming of Names traces the search for order in the natural world, a search that for hundreds of years occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe.

Redefining mans relationship with nature was a major pursuit during the Renaissance. But in a world full of poisons, there was also an urgent practical need to name and recognize different plants, because most medicines were made from plant extracts.

Anna Pavord takes us on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, traveling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua. The journey, traced here for the first time, involves the culture of Islam, the first expeditions to the Indies and the first settlers in the New World.

In Athens, Aristotles pupil Theophrastus was the first man ever to write a book about plants. How can we name, sort, and order them? He asked. The debate continues still, two thousand years later. Sumptuously illustrated in full colour, The Naming of Names gives a compelling insight into a world full of intrigue and intensely competitive egos.

About the Author

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596910713
Author:
Pavord, Anna
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Subject:
History
Subject:
Plants
Subject:
Life Sciences - Botany
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Botany -- History.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Botany-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20051131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.50 x 7.50 in

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Related Subjects

Home and Garden » Gardening » History and Theory
Home and Garden » Gardening » Writing
Science and Mathematics » Botany » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Botany

The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants Used Hardcover
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Product details 384 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596910713 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Pavord, author of the The Tulip and an expert gardener, traces the history of plant taxonomy from the ancient Greeks to 17th-century British botanist John Ray in this hefty tome, and though her passion for plants is apparent on every page, readers who don't share the same level of enthusiasm will be frustrated by Pavord's encyclopedic approach. Pavord, in prose as rich and colorful as the too-infrequent illustrations, contextualizes plant classification within larger intellectual, political and cultural spheres, but she verges dangerously close to writing a textbook; the vast amount of information she packs into brief, rapid-fire sections can overwhelm. In the best sections, she slows down to draw detailed portraits of researchers and describe how each contributed to the slowly evolving (and, until the late 1600's, unnamed) science of botany. Ray, for instance, marked 'a quiet, lonely, dogged consummation' with 'no fireworks, no claps of thunder, no swelling symphonic themes' when, shortly before his death and suffering from gangrene, he penned the six fundamental rules of botany. Pavord's prose dazzles, but it's not enough to carry readers with a casual interest in plants or gardening through an otherwise dense history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Anna Pavord takes readers on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, traveling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua to reveal man's quest to sort, name, and order plants.
"Synopsis" by ,
An exhilarating new book from the author of the worldwide bestseller The Tulip.

The Naming of Names traces the search for order in the natural world, a search that for hundreds of years occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe.

Redefining mans relationship with nature was a major pursuit during the Renaissance. But in a world full of poisons, there was also an urgent practical need to name and recognize different plants, because most medicines were made from plant extracts.

Anna Pavord takes us on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, traveling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua. The journey, traced here for the first time, involves the culture of Islam, the first expeditions to the Indies and the first settlers in the New World.

In Athens, Aristotles pupil Theophrastus was the first man ever to write a book about plants. How can we name, sort, and order them? He asked. The debate continues still, two thousand years later. Sumptuously illustrated in full colour, The Naming of Names gives a compelling insight into a world full of intrigue and intensely competitive egos.

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