Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man"...

...Or at least they were for Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov, besides being one of the greatest novelists and translators of the twentieth century, was also a gifted lepidopterologist. In his novel "Lolita", the motif of butterflies (to be analyzed later) is one of the most authorial, and personal characteristic, that Nabokov included with his controversial novel.

Nabokov worked for Harvard University in collecting for the Museum of Comparative Zoology during the 1940s. He discovered and named many species. In his honor, the genus Nabokovia was named after him. (As a side note, Nabokov preferred to identify species by their genitalia, rather than by chromosomes.) Nabokov, besides his numerous fictions and several published nonfictions, worked on extremely technical writings on butterflies. One unfinished work was "Father’s Butterflies: Second Addendum to 'The Gift'". This book, and other writings, were later collected by Brian Boyd and Robert Michael Pyle and to create "Nabokov's Butterflies".

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