Jardinage et éthique du care. Lecture de Jardins, de Robert Harrison by Florence NAUGRETTE – Château de Bénouville

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Jardinage et éthique du care. Lecture de Jardins, de Robert Harrison by Florence NAUGRETTE – Château de Bénouville

Gardening and care ethics. Reading of the work Gardens) by Robert Harrison

In times of crisis and the dark periods in history, man has always paid increasing attention to his gardens. Such is the conclusion drawn by Robert Harrison, in Gardens, An Essay on the Human Condition (University of Chicago Press) (French version – Le Pommier, 2007). He believes that gardens offer the unsettled man a refuge, a form of resistance against political oppression and social destruction, whilst embracing a form of regenerative expression and invention. Harrison also demonstrates the ambivalent and unclassifiable nature of this human production: is gardening labour, work or action, as defined in the tripartition of the vita activa (active life) defined by Hannah Arendt? What role does it play in personal fulfilment, education and the art of living together? We will start from the matrix concept promoted by Harrison via “Cura”, a mythological figure whose name derives from a Latin noun that encompasses many meanings (love, concern, worry, care, responsibility, attention, solicitude…). There is no French word that truly embraces the broadest sense of the word “care”. And although the ethics of care are not the central issue of this work, which duly pays tribute to the notion without for as much claiming to represent it, they are nevertheless one of the possible perspectives offered by this book – i.e. can gardening be considered as a means of taking care of oneself, of others and of the world?

Florence Naugrette

Florence Naugrette (8)

Florence Naugrette is a professor of French literature at the University of Paris – La Sorbonne and is a specialist in the history of theatre and of romanticism. She has written Le Théâtre romantique (Seuil, 2001), Le Plaisir du spectateur de théâtre (Bréal, 2002) and Le Théâtre de Victor Hugo (Ides et calendes, 2016). She is also editorial director for the unabridged publication of the 22,000 letters sent by Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo (www.juliettedrouet.org). She has translated Robert Harrison’s work into French: Forests, The Shadow of Civilization (Forêts). Essay on the Western Imagination (Essai sur l’imaginaire occidental – Flammarion, 1992), Rome la pluie, A quoi bon la littérature ? (Flammarion, 1994), The Dominion of the Dead (Les Morts – Le Pommier, 2003), Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (Jardins, Réflexions sur la condition humaine – Le Pommier, 2007) and Juvenescence (Jeunessence – Le Pommier, 2015).