Excerpted from nytimes.com:

The personal digressions in “Latest Readings” tend to be first rate. While denouncing hard drugs, Mr. James remarks: “At one period I was the kind of pothead who looked like a small cloud being propelled by a pair of legs.” He compares his imitation of the German soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf to another man’s, and writes that onstage Schwarzkopf “looked as if she were trying to kiss the behind of a hummingbird in midflight.

  1. Based on this article solely, does the bold letters above indicate:

    he(Mr. James) mimicked soprano Elisabeth, that means he sang a song imitating her(emphasising on gestures), and then compared this fact(that he sang in her style) to a man(who is not important enough to show his name), who also mimicked Elisabeth before, in order to make fun of Elisabeth?

  2. What does "she were trying to kiss the behind of a hummingbird in midflight" mean? I think it means she has funny gesture, but do nouns like "midflight", or "hummingbird" have any specific implication? Or this sentence is equivalent to "looked as if she were trying to kiss something"

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are correct with your first meaning (about mimicking Elizabeth).

a mid-flight hummingbird would be darting around quickly from place to place, and that is Mr. James description of her on stage. 'Kissing...' gives it a comic effect, making fun of her rather than being poetic about her movements.

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