NABOKV-L post 0014704, Mon, 22 Jan 2007 09:44:51 -0800

FROM Don Johnson

-My comments on Jerry Katsell's message are at bottom.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerry Katsell []
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 3:31 PM
Subject: Bohemians in New Wye

Dear List,

Judging by the marvelous photos supplied by Leland de la Durantaye on 1/5/07, Bombycilla garrulous, the Bohemian waxwing, may surely be the waxwing intended in PF. Its breast and belly are the right shade (deep ash-gray), the only shade that could produce that “smudge of ashen fluff” on Shade’s windowpane. The garrulous bird is the hermeneutic jumping-off point of the entire poem and attendant Kinbotean commentary. The Cedar waxwing’s feathering appears too tawny and yellow for the job. The dark yet ashy shading of the Bohemian waxwing also fits well with Priscilla Meyer’'s comments in Find What the Sailor Has Hidden (185) about the bird’s associations with the death theme (Sterbevogel) in the novel.


From Don Johnson:

I have just finished an article on the aviafauna of PF with special attention to the waxwing. There is no absolute certainty but the odds strongly favor the Cedar rather than the Bohemian waxwing. The gray window fluff Jerry mentions is not persuasive since it is the gray head rather than the more yellowish breast that hits the window. Also, it is the gray underfeathers that seem to stick. I don't think I have ever seen colored feathers from a window strike--some that happens at my house very now and then. Perhaps more substantive is that the Bohemian Waxwing does not comonly appear in the Ithaca area which is where VN saw the waxwing crash that provided his opening image. Along the Appalachian range of the US, only the Cedar Waxwing is normally found. The Bohemian Waxwing is basically Canadian in eastern North America. The Bohemian Waxwing is so rare in Ithaca that it was first reported only in 1913 and is still listed in rare bird reports for the area.

BW, Priscilla Meyer is right about the Bohemian Waxwing as a herald of death and disaster in parts of Central Europe (but not apparently, in Russia).

I'm sure that most of you out there NABOKOLAND can hardly wait for the article to appear.

Best, Don Johnson

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