Smell of …

September 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Whilst browsing through a review of Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Eric Korn published in London Review of Books, (Vol. 20 No. 23 · 26 November 1998) came across this nice passage:

Darwin’s books can be classified by smell. A Naturalist’s Voyage smells of the rainforest, the barnacle books smell of formalin, the (strangely neglected) botany books like Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species smell of the greenhouse, the earthworm book reeks of the compost heap and Darwin’s Thinking Path at Down in autumn. Expression smells of the North Downs, and a man out walking his dog and his stick, chatting with pigeon fanciers, racing men and the occasional zookeeper, teaplanter or missionary on leave. How many miles from Down to Selborne? About three score and ten if you avoid the M25. A journey from 18th-century squire-naturalist to scientific biologist, and back again.

Quick thoughts on two other works to classify by smell:
Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations – Goods rotting in a decrepit warehouse
Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory – …what one’s mind would impose on a scene where Grace Kelly lets slip a fart …a hurried quick interlacing of an unpleasant drift….

“It smells terrible in here.’

Well, what do you expect? The human body, when confined, produces certain odors which we tend to forget in this age of deodorants and other perversions. Actually, I find the atmosphere of this room rather comforting. Schiller needed the scent of apples rotting in his desk in order to write. I, too, have my needs.” ― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces


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