Ode aan de nachtegaal: portret van een onsterfelijke zanger by Dick De Vos

andrewspink's review

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author tells us everything there is to know about nightingales, their biology, ecology, taxonomy, distribution and all about how they have been seen in literature, music, painting (not much) and much else. He goes into technical details and isn't afraid of scientific terminology like Latin species names but (almost) everything is clearly explained and whereas that might sound like dry reading, in fact it was fascinating and a joy. He does expect his readers to be able to read German and English (the book is in Dutch) in some (but not all) parts. It is written authoritatively, although I did find one apparent error - at one point he says that birds are not kept in small cages in Northern Europe, which is a bit odd seeing e.g. canaries are still to be found in that situation. The author is enthusiastic about the poet John Clare, which is itself enough to endear him to me. He cites him, "I found the poems in the field and only wrote them down".
Although this is a very factual book, Dick de Vos nevertheless strongly communicates his great enthusiasm for the nightingale and after reading it I had a definite urge to track one down and listen to it.

Disclaimer: This book was kindly supplied to me by the publisher because it was on the longlist for the Senia 'lezen en natuur' reading group.