The Garden

The Garden


by Magnus Florin
translated by Harry Watson

Pages: 100
ISBN: 978-1-908251-26-8
Dimensions: 198 x 130 x 8 mm
Publication: 19 May 2014
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The Garden is about Carl Linnaeus, a leading figure in the Swedish Enlightenment, famous for his taxonomy — a classification of animals and plants that is still used in modern biology. Linnaeus perceives things through his desire to categorise and therefore in relation to other things. His gardener perceives things for what they are in themselves — and for their beauty or usefulness. They often find themselves in dialogue, but rarely understand each other. We observe Linnaeus alone in thought, or teaching and conversing with his students, or tending to his poorly siblings. Florin draws us into these impressionistic fragments with brave, colourful prose. The Garden blossoms into a work of imagination and intrigue, unafraid to question the shape of our world and the roots of existence. This strange, ambitious novel is the first English translation of Magnus Florin’s work; it became a bestseller in his native Sweden.


“Above all I notice how artfully Magnus Florin has concentrated and directed his material — he manages, as it were, to make the flower-king’s life and philosophy of nature fit into a window-box. The author’s day-job is at [the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm]. Perhaps it was there that he learned some of the stage-setting artistry that characterizes The Garden: places are reduced to scenery, people to gestures, repartee. … But it must also be said that The Garden is exceptionally entertaining to read, at the same time lyrical and comic, and the philosophical content is handled with great lightness of touch. … The Garden is probably not a potential bestseller, but it could easily become a minor classic.” — Dagens Nyheter

“The reader will be reminded of the once well-tended, narrow flower-beds of the Nouveau Roman, or perhaps of the rather more colourful beds of Kurt Vonnegut or Italo Calvino — beds, not for novels with a bent towards realism or psychology but for blooms dedicated to the adventure of thought and its grounding in the emotions.” Neue Zurcher Zeitung

“Magnus Florin’s The Garden, which was published in Sweden in 1995 and which has long been regarded there as a classic of contemporary literature, is about not only the erosion of the doctrine of the Creation, but even more about the painful loss of the comforting certainty that went with that doctrine, and, most of all, about the unpredictability of the world. Magnus Florin … has cultivated a distinctive poetic tone in his books, at once elegant and austere and distinguished by a strong musicality.” Die Welt