Surprise: There is no table of contents and no titles above the chapters. So it’s an expedition into the unknown. But it’s worth it: Combined, the journey into the world of botany is entertaining with entertaining episodes from the life of a plant addict.
The tour guide is Mark Jenson, director of the world’s largest herbarium at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. He is assisted by journalist Charlotte Fauve. The two lead in the footsteps of famous botanists and anonymous researchers around the world. The fact that most chapters are two or three pages long is tempting to read something else – about Jenson’s attacks on “plantomania” (the addiction to wanting to plant something), or about the forest in his head, or why he got one that is the little rose of the leaves that comes out From the pavement is as wonderful as an orchid at the top of a tropical tree.
Of course it is about science, about systematics and evolution, but it always stays alive. In the figurative language of the authors, the great ancient cedar turns into a “woody blue whale”, and the aroma of the flower reminds us of “pineapple, shellfish, mouse urine”. When reading, you think you can smell the flower.
Gorgeous, nostalgic illustrations are more than just showing off. They are otherwise on blank pages. The idea of cutting it with a razor blade, framing it and hanging it on the wall is tempting. Jürgen Nakot
Charlotte Vuve, Mark Jenson
The Temple, 224 p. , € 22, –
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