I’ve spent most of my time since Thanksgiving trying to get my semester wrapped up, which means I’ve spent quite a bit more time looking at birds in the works of James Joyce than birds in real life.
Many people don’t realize that Joyce was very into birds, using them as a symbol of artistic and spiritual inspiration throughout his quasi-autobiographical works (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.) He even makes his alter-ego Stephen Daedalus a proto-birder:
“What birds were they? He stood on the steps of the library to look at them, leaning wearily on his ashplant. They flew round and round the jutting shoulder of a house in Molesworth Street. The air of the late March evening made clear their flight, their dark quivering bodies flying clearly against the sky as against a limp-hung cloth of smoky tenuous blue…”
It turns out these birds are Barn Swallows. Inspirational indeed.
Meanwhile, trapped here in my cruddy apartment in Missoula, I’ve finally managed to lure some birds of my own to my feeder. I’ve got Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Song Sparrows, and perhaps most exciting a wide range of Dark-eyed Junco morphs: Slate-colored, Oregon, and Pink-sided. None of them has brought me much artistic inspiration for this paper yet, but here’s hoping.
Just write the paper, Carrie.
Just write the paper, Carrie, and get back to the birds outside!
And come on: Pink-sided Juncos must surely be inspirational? Well, one of them in Germany would definitely inspire me to all sorts of things. None of which would include paper-writing, come to think of it. Yeah, so maybe the advise is to NOT look at them because they might be inspirational, and then …
Just write the paper, Carrie, will you?
Jochen: Thanks for the encouragement! You will be pleased to hear that I turned in the Joyce paper on Friday, and now I’m working on a paper on evolving views of the American west in Big Year literature.
Yeah, in the program they call me “the bird girl.”
Big Year LITERATURE? Tell us more. What constitutes this genre?
Donna: For this paper I’m specifically looking at Wild America, Kingbird Highway, and Return to Wild America.
Carrie: good to know they call you the “bird girl” and not the “bird literature girl”, or do they?
Your latest project sounds very interesting. Of course it will require you to travel on all those routes the authors traveled on and visit all the places mentioned in the books in order to do the topic justice. and of course you will need to personally see all the birds mentioned in the books, ey?
I trust you will keep us up-dated.
And this struck me recently: has James Joyce ever been to Labrador?