Of Nabokov and Butterflies

Vladimir Nabokov may be known to most people as the author of classic novels like “Lolita” and “Pale Fire.” But even as he was writing those books, Nabokov had a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies. …

in a speculative moment in 1945, he came up with a sweeping hypothesis for the evolution of the butterflies he studied, a group known as the Polyommatus blues. He envisioned them coming to the New World from Asia over millions of years in a series of waves. …

over the past 10 years, a team of scientists has been applying gene-sequencing technology to his hypothesis about how Polyommatus blues evolved. On Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, they reported that Nabokov was absolutely right.

Nabokov Theory on Polyommatus Blue Butterflies Is Vindicated – NYTimes.com

“What drives me insane is the twofold nature of this butterfly, of every butterfly perhaps, this mixture in my Lolita of tender, dreamy childishness and a kind of eerie vulgarity.”

–Humbert, from Nabokov’s Lolita. Except he said “nymphet,” not “butterfly.”

 

 

 

 

 

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