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The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas and The Heron by Giorgio Bassani: The Identification with the Ornithological Other

Author(s): Sara Culeddu

Journal: Nordicum-Mediterraneum
ISSN 1670-6242

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Tarjei Vesaas | The birds | Giorgio Bassani | The Heron | L’airone

A comparative reading of the novels The Birds (Fuglane, 1957) by the Norwegian author Tarjei Vesaas and The Heron (L’airone, 1968) by the Italian Giorgio Bassani rises a question: why do the two main characters – so different from each other, created by two writers so distant from each other in space and with two completelydifferent cultural backgrounds – face the same fate, at the end of a path running through the same stages? The characters of Mattis “the Idiot” and Edgardo Limentaniboth find themselves in a dramatic condition of exclusion from society and existential collapse. They get to recognize themselves respectively in the images of a woodcockand of a heron. Then a hunter fires and the death of the birds anticipates, en abyme,the death of both characters. They both commit suicide.The question is generated by the relevance of ornithological symbolism in the two novels, made explicit by their titles and the main characters’ relation to the two birds,which turns into identification. The analysis of ornithological symbols is deferred for the moment only to briefly introduce the two main characters.
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