There exists an area of overlap where language and nature meet, and this book, first published in 1980, illuminates that fascinating territory. When real-world things, such as plants, are used in literature or language as symbols, these special signs have a double allegiance. They function as language but derive their meaning from nature. The authors trace the consequences of this, and show how it affects the character of the relevant areas of language and literature.
Original and entertaining, this study cuts across a number of traditional disciplines. It should appeal not only to those interested in literature, language and semiotics, but also to students of philosophy, anthropology, classics, pictorial art, religion and folklore.
Table of Contents
Foreword; Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part 1: ‘Pregnant Gourds’ and ‘Delirious Pumpkins’: The Semiotic Matrix of Cucurbits; Part 2: Implications; 1. Is a literary work written by the author or by the readers? 2. Does a literary work write itself? 3. Sign and signification 4. Independent creation versus tradition 5. On the nature of signs used in cucurbitic metaphors; Conclusion; Notes; Works cited; Translations; Index