Dissembling his art: ‘Gascoigne's Gardnings’
This essay considers how garden and agricultural manuals from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries provide insight into George Gascoigne's negotiation of his role as professional writer in A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres and The Posies. By considering Gascoigne's collection in conjunction with gardening books from the period, we can see more clearly the issues Gascoigne confronts, issues that seem inextricably involved with print culture and changing social values. The same concerns that permeate so much of Gascoigne's work are evident in the gardening manuals of the period with their interrogation of profit and pleasure, art and nature, the reliability of sources – and with their obsession with the vulgarity of men who wrote or gardened for profit. Recent scholarship also suggests the connection between the garden manual and notions of nationhood, the history of the book, and the burgeoning print marketplace – all issues apparent in Gascoigne's work. Gascoigne's analogy then is more than just a convention and is fundamentally connected to the ways that he fashions his identity as gentleman, author, and Englishman.