Here Straka may have been winking at what he saw as MacInnes’s quirks and pretensions. The Scotsman is reputed (though, of course, I have no first-hand knowledge) to be an enthusiastic sharer of the nuances of his bowel health, a tea-drinker so persnickety about its preparation as to cause his café companions much embarrassment, and a self-styled Casanova who believes that a bottle of 1866 Château Hirondelle des Granges guarantees him the favor of anyone with whom he shares it. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that he attempted to ply Amarante Durand with this very vintage one night in Torremolinos and received the coldest of shoulders in response. (Fn13, p231)
- The wine mentioned is fictitious. Hirondelle des Granges translates to barn swallow – the European swallow.
- Philomela is a minor character in Greek mythology. In her tragic story, she is turned into a nightingale (Eric refers to Filomela as a nightingale in his postcards to Jen). Philomela had a sister, Procne, who is turned into a swallow.
- In 1866, Algernon Charles Swinburne published the poem Itylus, which retells the story of Philomela and Procne.
- Itylus means butterfly. In the marginalia just below the footnote, Eric mentions VANESSA. Vanessa means butterfly.
Algernon Charles Swinburne’s characteristic theme is immersion: immersion in the sea, in song, and in the hypnotic repetitions to which song is drawn, in myth, in thoughts of death, and in thoughts of maternal vastness.
It seems to me that this footnote on page 231 is drawing specific attention to the 1866 poem Itylus, the Greek story of Philomela, and the importance of song in story.
Perhaps this is a clue that Filomela Caldeira and Amarante Durand are sisters, which would introduce a new dynamic into the relationship between the two of them and V.M. Straka.
We may even discover that they are The Drifting Twins.