Role of the Parrot in Selected Texts From Ovid to Jean Rhys

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This book features the efforts of a group of academics from diverse disciplines that have been working together to highlight the presence of the parrot in selected texts across the centuries. Their common purpose is to demonstrate that fictional parrots invariably function as more than decoration, comedy or badges denoting the eccentricity of their human owners. These versatile and talented birds function as markers for subtle literary techniques. Using the parrot as an interpretative tool the focus is on a range of narrative strategies and metaphorical meanings employed by the authors in question and argue that these are embodied in the attributes of the speaking bird who figures significantly in each work.


“ ... [these] essays offer a rich, suggestive overview of the role played by these birds in the western cultural imagination. Ranging in time from ancient Rome to twentieth-century England, and employing the disciplinary vocabularies of classics, biology, romance philology, and English literary history, the contributions to this book exemplify the breadth and diversity of their subject matter ... " – (From the Preface) Professor Bruce Boehrer, Florida State University

“ ... [this work] is a celebration of the parrot in literature old and new, and in a curious way, a real celebration of the human in all its diversity, imagination, flamboyance and irony … it is first and foremost a celebration of how the figure of the parrot is able to enlarge, enrich and embellish the patterns of narrative across time and space.” – Professor Yiannis Gabriel, Royal Holloway University of London

“ ... this book is a fascinating flight of the imagination for all academic, and many general, readers in its exploration of the parrot as parody, mimic, omen, creature of carnival, narrator and subversive … offers new visions of the familiar, introduces readers to lesser-known material, and links a wealth of literary tradition to the joyful presence of the living bird.” – Professor Diana Winstanley, Kingston University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface by Professor Bruce Boehrer
1. Two Poetic and Parodic Parrots in Latin Literature by Paula James
2. ‘A Byrde of Paradyse’: - Skelton’s Speke Parot and the Parrots of its Context by Susan Purdie
3. The Nunnery Parrot: Gresset’s Ver-Vert and his English translators by John Gilmore
4. The View from the Perch: Flaubert’s Loulou by Julia Courtney
5. Parrot as Paradigm: Stevenson and others by Julia Courtney
6. Parrots in Children’s Fiction by Hilary Clare
7. Coco: A Parrot of Few Words in Wide Sargasso Sea by Paula James
8. The Scientific Background to Parrots in Literature by Caroline Pond

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