Marcia Reiss


Marcia Reiss

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 70 color plates, 30 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2013
Cloth $27.00 ISBN: 9781780230931 Published August 2013 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $27.00 ISBN: 9781780231303 Published August 2013
The lily is a flower of contradictions. It represents both life and death, appearing at weddings and funerals. In their pure white form, lilies are a symbol of innocence, chastity, and purity of heart, but in contrast, the highly fragrant and intensely colored orange lilies symbolize passion. In Lily, Marcia Reiss explores these paradoxes, tracing the flower’s cultural significance in art, literature, religion, and popular entertainment throughout history.
Reiss journeys from the tomb carvings of ancient Egypt to the paintings of Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Salvador Dalí, exploring the lily as a subject of fascination and obsession. Unearthing many absorbing facts and fables about the blossom, she examines its use in cuisine and reveals them to have been a source of food and medicine in China for centuries. While Reiss focuses her attention on true lilies and the ornamental hybrids breeders have derived from them, she also provides extensive information about a wide variety of popular lilies, including daylilies, lilies of the valley, water lilies, and calla lilies. Filled with striking illustrations of these gorgeous plants, Lily is a book for gardeners and lily admirers alike.

Introduction: A Flower with Multiple Personalities

1 A Lily by Any Other Name

2 From the Ice Age to the Modern Age: The Journey of the True Lily

3 A Lily in Every Garden

4 Picturing the Lily

5 Milk, Blood and Sex: The Mythology of the Lily

6 As Pure as a Lily

7 The Sexiest Flower

8 Matters of Life and Death

9 Always Entertaining

10 A Lily a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

11 Lilies on Your Plate

Epilogue: A Journey in Shushan

Timeline of the Lily


Review Quotes
Gardens Illustrated
Lily and Pine are beautifully produced, with an old-fashioned and wonderfully solid feel to them; they are well illustrated with material from a very wide range of sources, and bound at a higher quality than the general run of hardback books, especially given the modest price. I can see them becoming collectors’ items.”
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