Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Atlas of Perfumed Botany


Atlas of Perfumed Botany is a beautifully illustrated atlas/encyclopedia of the art and botany of perfumery by renowned "nose" Jean-Claude Ellena. Released in French in 2020, this English language translation is due out 5th April 2022 from the MIT Press. It's 168 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is an accessible and well written nonfiction atlas of scented botanical materials used in perfume, and presented by a world renowned perfumer with decades of experience. He writes very knowledgeably and well and it's very clear that he knows what he's talking about. The book's chapters are arranged thematically: woods & barks, leaves, flowers, gums & resins, seeds, and roots. Each entry includes the name with botanical (Latin) nomenclature, and wonderfully warm stories of the plants and how they're grown and processed. It could be a dry recitation, but these vignettes are anything but - they're told in a personal and conversational manner and felt to me much like an informal coffee date with a mentor.

The translation work by Erik Butler is seamless. I never once felt yanked out of the flow of the stories or found anything that was clumsily translated or awkwardly worded. The illustrations by Karin Doering-Froger are graphically attractive and restful and enhance the individual entries well. They have a sort of botanical print / Wm. Morris vibe. 

Five stars. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, as well as for gardeners and readers who enjoy botanical reading. The author is a joy to read and vastly knowledgeable.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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