Thomas Ramey Watson

7 Literary Gardens We’d Love To Spend All Day Reading In

A Chinese proverb says, “a book is like a garden carried in your pocket.” Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote the short story “The Garden of the Forking Paths” would agree. In his story, a professor and a scholar attempt to decode a cryptic note left by a literary ancestor, who bequeaths “to several futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths.” The “garden,” it turns out, is not a physical space, but a labyrinthine novel with its own twists and turns.

Fictional gardens serve as metaphors not only for winding plots, but also for contemplation, as in Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady, and for suppressed desires, as in Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, in which a disgruntled woman has an affair with a gamekeeper.

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