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snow bird Options
justina bandol
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 9:27:11 AM
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This is the beginning of Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited:

"And where’s Mr. Campbell?” Charlie asked.
“Gone to Switzerland. Mr. Campbell’s a pretty sick man, Mr. Wales.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. And George Hardt?” Charlie inquired.
“Back in America, gone to work.”
“And where is the Snow Bird?”
“He was in here last week. Anyway, his friend, Mr. Schaeffer, is in Paris.”
Two familiar names from the long list of a year and a half ago.


The characters are Americans in Paris, probably in 1930-1931 (the story was published in 1931). What could "Snow Bird" refer to? It's obviously a nickname.
sureshot
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 9:56:58 AM
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justina bandol wrote:
This is the beginning of Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited:

"And where’s Mr. Campbell?” Charlie asked.
“Gone to Switzerland. Mr. Campbell’s a pretty sick man, Mr. Wales.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. And George Hardt?” Charlie inquired.
“Back in America, gone to work.”
“And where is the Snow Bird?”
“He was in here last week. Anyway, his friend, Mr. Schaeffer, is in Paris.”
Two familiar names from the long list of a year and a half ago.


The characters are Americans in Paris, probably in 1930-1931 (the story was published in 1931). What could "Snow Bird" refer to? It's obviously a nickname.

__________________________________________

The author has used the term "Snow Bird". This term is a slang term for a cocaine addict.

justina bandol
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 10:28:50 AM
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Good, thank you very much!
pasteur
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 12:28:41 PM

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Location: Glendale, Arizona, United States
I live in Glendale, AZ. The term "snow bird" is applied in our state to a person who lives in Northern US and moves during the winter time
in Arizona to escape the frigid temperatures. Most of them have a second home in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Axel Bear
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 1:22:42 PM

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The above poster is correct concerning migration to a warmer climate.

However, I don't think this 'defection' was so widely followed back in the time when Fitzgerald wrote 'Babylon Revisited'.




Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite: Joseph de Maistre
Rahul Goyal
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 1:57:18 PM

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Mean, but good to know :)
NKM
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 6:38:23 PM

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Pasteur is right, certainly.

Here in Upstate New York, most of our "snow birds" spend winters in Florida. But any place with a southerly climate can earn them that epithet.

justina bandol
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 6:51:13 PM
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I've read about the "migratory" snow birds. But somehow they don't really fit in Paris - I think. The cocain addict is more probable, since the names were of people who used to live life to the fullest in Paris in the "roaring twenties".
ChristineC
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015 7:25:36 PM

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snow birds in the US, are the people who fly to the south to escape the winter.
Romany
Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:02:52 PM
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As this appears at the very beginning of the story either a) it doesn't matter or b) it's a teaser.

At the beginning of a story it's completely impossible to guess at why any of the characters have nicknames.If I were to translate the story I think, until I read it all, I'd just put an X for Snow Birds name.

If the name/character never comes up again then it doesn't matter i.e. an unconventional name was just shoved in to add colour and to show the variety of friends. You could replace it with any nickname that's used in your language.

If it was a teaser: then it was deliberately tossed in - and deliberately provocative - so it would stay in your mind; you would recognise it again if it cropped up in the narrative; it forces you to wonder WHY someone has this soubriquet.

It's a writer's tool. We're going to meet this character again. We're going to learn WHY they are called this: it could be because "Snow Bird" is a tiny, thin woman with white-blond hair who LOOKS like a snow bird. It might be a notorious drug dealer.....what kind of story is this going to be?

Yep. I might not read him for pleasure any more...but damn! he's a good writer!
justina bandol
Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:28:43 PM
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An excellent writer, Romany, I totally agree.

Mind you, the character never comes up again, but those people the main character (Charlie) is asking about are old pals since the "crazy days" when he was rich, adventurous and idle in Paris - a period which is constantly referenced throughout the story. So, I agree that Snow Bird may mean any of a lot of things, but somehow the idea of the cocaine addict fitted in quite well. I actually called him differently and put a note saying the original may mean that.
Romany
Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:56:47 PM
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So - cunning old snake just threw it in for colour. A single nickname which encapsulates for us the kinds of people that make up the "friends." And get us reading on..

as I've said before: a nightmare to translate.

Charge double!!
sureshot
Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015 2:38:05 PM
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It appears that there is still a doubt on the use of the term/word "Snow Bird" by the author. Here are two references that throw light on the use of the expression "Snow Bird" by the author.

Page 186 of the site referred below says that it is a slang term for "a cocaine addict".

Source 1

F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Perspectives - Page 186 - Google Books Result
https://books.google.co.in/books?isbn=0820343544


SOURCE 2
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/snowbird
Meaning of snowbird: Slang. cokehead.

The word "cokehead" means "a cocaine addict or habitual user".

I hope this clears the doubts.


justina bandol
Posted: Friday, January 1, 2016 1:15:17 AM
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Thanks so much, sureshot!
Romany
Posted: Friday, January 1, 2016 9:06:49 AM
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Hey, SS,

Yes, very helpful to provide the definition you have done for people unfamiliar with the phrase.

But just to clear up: we weren't particularly doubtful about that meaning of the phrase: - we were discussing, in a more abstract way, the skill of the writer and the way he employed those two little words where a lot of other writers would have had to go into a descriptive paragraph (or paragraphs) to get the same message across.

And how, though both Justina and I agree Fitzgerald can be a little "dense" there is no doubt about why he is included in the Canon.

So we were discussing the phrase "Snow bird" but certainly not, in any way, saying your interpretation was in doubt at all.
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