Planting for Pleasure: The Eighteenth-Century Erotic Garden

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Libertine erotic novellas included a number of descriptions of unfolding spaces that stage the interior as a space designed to excite the nerves and dazzle the senses. One such text is Jean-Fran├žois de Bastide's La Petite Maison (1789), where the properly encoded interior advertises itself as a space for seduction. For the protagonist the plan of seduction is inscribed in the novel's “floor-plan,” in spatial settings and dimensions between actors and the environment. Although the intention is to arrive at the boudoir, the journey is made through the narrative logics of circulation and exchange, and between house interior and the garden. This article examines the role of the garden as both a moment of respite and an erotically charged enclosure affecting the senses. It includes discussion of other French erotic literature including Vivant Denon's Point de lendermain (1777) and images in which gardens play an explicitly erotic role in the narrative, or construct environments for the pursuit of individual pleasure.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture brings together the best critical work on the analysis of all types of spaces. The journal investigates the complexities of the interior environment's orchestration and composition, and its impact on the inhabitant from a trans-disciplinary perspective.

    The interior is the journal's central focus and contributions from interior design practitioners and theorists are welcome. The journal embraces perspectives from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, architecture, art and design history, cultural studies and visual culture, and places no limits in terms of either geography or chronology. The journal sets out to challenge divisions between theory and practice, and aims to provide an essential forum for all those with an interest in the design, history and meaning of interiors.

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