Love scenes and garden plots: form and femininity in Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and her German garden (1898)

O'Connell, Rachel (2017) Love scenes and garden plots: form and femininity in Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and her German garden (1898). Women: A Cultural Review. pp. 22-39. ISSN 0957-4042 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This essay reads Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and Her German Garden (1898) in relation to Alfred Austin’s garden book, The Garden that I Love (1894). The Garden that I Love presents the garden as a retreat modelled on the Horatian ideal, in which a man retires from public life to enjoy a peaceful rural existence. Von Arnim shows how the garden, or rather the good of retreat that the garden represents, is well-nigh inaccessible to a female subject. At the same time, she wants to claim the garden’s seclusion for the female subject. Ultimately von Arnim takes the idea of feminine retreat to an unexpected extreme, generating, in certain passages of her text, a perverse garden fantasia that celebrates feminine autoeroticism and sexual self-sufficiency. Notably, it is specific aspects of the form of the garden book that allow von Arnim to develop her ambivalently feminist, unabashedly utopian vision of feminine withdrawal and retreat.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Elizabeth Von Arnim, Alfred Austin, femininity, narcissism, autoeroticism, retreat, garden
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0111 Women authors
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0750 Prose
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR4000 19th century, 1770/1800-1890/1900
Depositing User: Rachel O'Connell
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 12:25
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017 08:31
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/67369

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