'Love' [entry in the online Encyclopedia of smell history and heritage]


Ever since writers, philosophers, and poets have discussed the meanings and implications of love, they have also associated it with particular smells. For the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, love was akin to 'beds of roses / And a thousand fragrant posies'. For Anne Eliot, the protagonist of Jane Austen's novel Persuasion, the joy of love was 'almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way'. For the Victorian poet George Meredith, love was the sweet scent of the briar and the juice of ripe apples in the orchard. The intoxicating scent of virtuous love was pure, sweet, fragrant, and floral, and was more widely indicative of qualities such as virtue and fidelity, particularly in the beloved woman. In stark contrast was the repellent stink of vice, the decaying odour of betrayal, or the bitterness which characterised love's departure.

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Holloway, Sally

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education, Humanities and Languages


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-11-09

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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