MUGUET, MUGUET: THE SWEET, VICIOUS PURITY OF LILY OF THE VALLEY: Diorissimo (Dior) :: Muguet de Bonheur (Caron) :: Le Muguet (Annick Goutal): Lily Of The Valley (Penhaligons): and others

The Black Narcissus

 

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In Natsume Soseki’s 1909 novel Sore Kara (‘And then…’) protagonist Daisuke – a pretence-addled, fraught, yet indolent aesthete whose descent into madness forms the core of the novel – has a predilection for sleeping in the aroma of delicate flowers to negate life’s sordid realities. Being affected by the ordinary physical world with ‘inordinate severity’, this neurasthenic book collector ‘employed a faint, lightly sweet floral scent as part of this strategy to reduce contacts to a minimum; the flowers beside his pillow would gradually lure his restless consciousness into the world of dreams.”

 

The flowers: “snowy white lilies-of-the-valley, their stems still uncut.”

 

These form an important motif in the novel, but not merely for their pristine beauty and virgin whiteness: they come almost to be seen as a metaphor for repression. We learn that in his youth Daisuke had instead loved lilies, when his natural…

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