“Plants have a will of their own”: the construction of botanical metaphors and symbols in the literary garden of (postcolonial) India

  • Esterino Adami Università di Torino


This article offers a preliminary investigation of figurative, metaphorical and linguistic aspects of the garden in Indian English fiction. After providing a short introduction to the symbolism of gardens in the colonial and postcolonial periods, and to the image of the garden in Anglophone Indian literature, the focus will be on the novel The Solitude of Emperors by David Davidar (2007), in order to stress the relevance of both specific phytonyms and common names of plants as important linguistic, cultural and textual indicators employed to construct and convey meanings, often in the form of cognitive metaphors. In this light, the postcolonial garden emerges as a cultural site of hybridity and connection with the past. The examination is undertaken through an interdisciplinary approach that follows and adapts the theories and methods of postcolonial studies, stylistics and narratology (e.g. Kövecses 2002; Jeffries and McIntyre 2010; Sorlin 2014).


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Author Biography

Esterino Adami, Università di Torino
Esterino Adami, PhD, is a tenured researcher in English language and translation at the University of Turin. His main areas of interest include stylistics, sociolinguistics, varieties of English, postcolonial literatures, and the semiotics of graphic narratives. He has published on lexical and stylistic aspects of Indian English, the theme of identity in Anglophone cultures and language creativity in postcolonial settings. In 2012 he co-edited (with A. Martelli) the volume Within and Across. Language and Construction of Shifting Identities in Post-Colonial Contexts. His current research project is titled “Railway Cultures” and aims to examine metaphors, symbols and textualities of the railway imagery in the Anglophone world.


Adami, Esterino. 2011. “Botanical References in Some Anglophone Cultures: Reshaping Meaning in Literary Texts.” In To a Scholar Sahab: Essays and Writings in Honour of Alessandro Monti, edited by Esterino Adami and Carole Rozzonelli, 5-20. Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso.

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Jeffries, Leslie and Dan McIntyre. 2010. Stylistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Neelambaram, Bolleddu. 2013. “Germination of Communal Violence in David Davidar’s The Solitude of Emperors.” Research Journal of English Language and Literature, 1.4: 48-54.

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Movement 2: Imagining the plants and metaphorizing the social / Immagini vegetali e metafore del sociale