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former hoot | further hoot

Nabokov and butterflies...

In his poem “On Discovering a Butterfly,” Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov wrote of “the secluded stronghold” where specimens are kept “safe from creeping relatives and rust.” When Nabokov caught a frosty-blue butterfly in France in 1938, he brought it to the stronghold of the American Museum of Natural History, where it still sits with a bright red label, crowning it the first and official representative, or holotype, of Lysandra cormion.

While Nabokov is most famous for his fancy prose style, he was also devoted to lepidopterology, the study of moths and butterflies. After fleeing Russia in 1940, Nabokov started his American life volunteering in the Museum’s entomology collections. He once told an interviewer, “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.”
(from here)

I now long to see that old old butterfly! To gaze upon it and wonder what it was like for Nabokov to catch it, to carry it across the Atlantic, and did he ever think that in 2012 it would be still be displayed in the museum? The thought would boggle anyone's mind! 70 years!

If the revolution hadn't happened, instead of 'Literature is love' he might have written 'Butterflies are love'.

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