Birds in Portuguese Literature

By Queiroz, Ana Isabel; Soares, Filipa | Environment and History, May 2016 | Go to article overview

Birds in Portuguese Literature


Queiroz, Ana Isabel, Soares, Filipa, Environment and History


ABSTRACT

Birds are emblematic natural elements of landscapes. Readily noticeable and appreciated due to their songs and flight, they have been thoroughly used as components of literary scenarios. This paper analyses their representations in a broad corpus (144 writings by 67 writers) since the nineteenth century, divided in three time-periods. It aims to understand which wild birds are represented in Portuguese literature, how those representations prevail over time, and what literary texts reveal about distribution and abundance of the birds mentioned, linked to major environmental and landscape changes. Based on common names, 112 taxonomic units are identified, corresponding to either one species, species of the same genera or family or a higher taxon. In addition, historical distribution and abundance are extracted from literary texts and compared with data from biological sources, such as ornithological reports, guides, atlas and red data books. We conclude that bird representations are frequent and diversified in terms of taxonomic units, and this richness tends to prevail over time. The most prolific wild bird representations are linked to the writers' own experiences of the Portuguese countryside during their childhood and youth. It is particularly significant in the writers from the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, with a rural origin, like most of the population. Despite landscape and social changes through time, contemporary literature still reveals a sound knowledge of birds and a proximity and appreciation of nature, which can be explained by the rural ancestry of some current writers, as a kind of countryside nostalgia, and/or the embodiment of an environmental discourse of wildlife preservation.

KEYWORDS

Ecological history, Portuguese literature, birds

INTRODUCTION

Birding in literature requires similar attention to birding in the field, and generates perhaps a similar fascination and pleasure. Bird literary descriptions combine objective and subjective dimensions (like the writers' field notes and experiences of birding) that can be a valuable testimony of natural and cultural landscape features, as well as a repository of the environmental imagination of a particular time and space. Such descriptions can be used to list species, and analyse how their biological and ecological characteristics are depicted, as well as cultural perceptions. In this regard, descriptions can also be considered a way to think about the tangible and intangible relationships between humans and the more-than-human world throughout time.

Previous studies on this topic include the canonical work Birds in Literature. (1) It explores how attributes that make birds so familiar--their flight and song--are described, and their underlying meanings. Examples come primarily from American and British poetry and prose from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although Greco-Roman writers are also cited.

Years later, John Rowlett analysed the relationship between ornithological knowledge and literary understanding. The author explores the origins of British literary ecocriticism, focusing on the analysis of three poems from the late eighteenth century, where sound ornithological knowledge was applied. For him, although 'the class Aves composes an especially rewarding group of natural creatures to inquire into', it has not yet been the main focus of literary criticism. (2)

Thomas Gannon is the author of an extensive cross-cultural transatlantic study about how poets and nature writers in Britain and Native America have incorporated birds into their writings. (3) Jeremy Mynott, in turn, analyses how birds are represented and experienced, by focusing on their naming and classification, their imaginative and emotional role, and cultural representations (4).

Recently, Sabine Kim sheds light on the poetics of bird watching as a result of an embodied practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Birds in Portuguese Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.