Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Nabakov's Birthday Tomorrow. He Was Also a Lepidopterist.

Vladimir Nabakov's (one of my favourite author's) birthday is tomorrow. He was born on 22nd April 1899. What is not well-known about the author of "Lolita" is that he was a lepidopterist (a person who studies butterflies). Here's what this wikipaedia article has to say about him:

"His career as an entomologist was equally distinguished. His interest in this field had been inspired by books of Maria Sibylla Merian he had found in the attic of his family's country home in Vyra.Throughout an extensive career of collecting he never learned to drive a car, and he depended on his wife VĂ©ra to take him to collecting sites. During the 1940s, as a research fellow in zoology, he was responsible for organizing the butterfly collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. His writings in this area were highly technical. This, combined with his specialty in the relatively unspectacular tribe Polyommatini of the family Lycaenidae, has left this facet of his life little explored by most admirers of his literary works. He described the Karner Blue. The genus Nabokovia was named after him in honor of this work, as were a number of butterfly and moth species (e.g. many of the genera Madeleinea and Pseudolucia).In 1967, Nabokov commented: "The pleasures and rewards of literary inspiration are nothing beside the rapture of discovering a new organ under the microscope or an undescribed species on a mountainside in Iran or Peru. It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all."

To think that the world would have lost one of its best novelists to Lepidopterology is unthinkable. Hm.

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