NABOKV-L post 0018242, Sat, 25 Apr 2009 11:04:06 -0300

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Re: Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov ...
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Marie Bouchet: A personal favorite: A Dirt Road in a Canyon: Lolita: A Screenplay, New York: Vintage, 1997, 127-128.
"HUMBERT: Is that a rare specimen?/ NABOKOV: A specimen cannot be common or rare, it can only be poor or perfect.[...] You meant "rare species." This is a good specimen of a rather scarce subspecies".

Reginald Laing shares this news: On the occasion of the 110th anniversary of Nabokov's birth, The New Republic has compiled some book reviews by and on Nabokov from the magazine's archives:
http://www.tnr.com/booksarts/story.html?id=5c5f7e94-e2f4-45e2-b6ea-7d159f9c9b08.

Victor Fet [Why did Nabokov choose to name it "samuelis"?] It was named after Samuel Hubbard Scudder (1837-1911), the most famous American lepidopterist [...] Nabokov read as a child and called "stupendous" (Speak, Memory). Scudder worked in the same Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, as VN[...]The famous Karner Blue, Lycaeides (now Plebejus) melissa samuelis Nabokov, 1943; its holotype [the unique specimen on which species description should be based] was collected by Scudder. The story of Karner Blue is told in Zimmer's A Guide to Nabokov's Butterflies and Moths and detailed in Johnson & Coates' Nabokov's Blues.(from "Adakisme, Dolikisme: the Kirkaldy connection" The Nabokovian, 2006, 56: 14-19.) http://victorfet.com/blog/?page_id=210

Robert H. Boyle: Elementary, My Dear J...Nabokov said (in fact he told me personally in 1959) that he named the Karner Blue subspecies (which now may turn out to be a species in its own right) samuelis in honor Samuel Scudder, one of the great American entomologists of the 19th century and one of the two leading authorities on the Lepidoptera of North America. (The other was William H. Edwards, born in the Catskills, who inspired Henry Walter Bates & Alfred Russsel Wallace to explore & collect in the Amazon Basin. Bates was the father of Batesian mimicry --- ponder that you students of VN's magical imagery ---while Wallace gave Darwin a run for the roses.) For all the blizzard of emails that I receive every time I turn on my computer about VN lit'ry matters, allusions, this & that small point, etc. his deeply rich entomological side gets short shrift. There must be, God knows, doctoral theses in this vein to mine. Hey, C. P. Snow was right.


JM: A good chiding and hiding from Victor Fet and R.H.Boyle, concerning the matter of a little "samuelis." The latter's reference to Snow, just to bring up to our collective recollection, indicates (wiki) "Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow, English physicist and novelist,best known for a series of novels known collectively as "Strangers and Brothers", and for "The Two Cultures", a 1959 lecture in which he laments the gulf between scientists and "literary intellectuals",cf. 1959 Rede Lecture, subsequently published as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, the lecture argued that the breakdown of communication between the "two cultures" of modern society - the sciences and the humanities - was a major hindrance to solving the world's problems. In particular, Snow argues that the quality of education in the world is on the decline."
Indeed. There are fewer Leonardo's at large in the present world: perhaps they decided to work silently or joined a big corporation after funds. Unfortunately for me I don't like butterflies, catterpillars and things "qui rampent", nor are orchids, gladioly or tulips my favorite flowers, which turns me into a flawed Nabokovian-fan.

Just like VN, in the above quoted screenplay by M.Bouchet, patiently explains "specimen" and "species", I count on expert outside help: Fet and Boyle didn't disappoint me.
In the past I asked a question (related to magical imagery) but got no answer. Perhaps I'll be luckier now.
Do biologists take "kinetic art" into consideration? (I have in mind Duchamp's "Nude descending the stairs").
Butterflies and dragonflies often carry a little, almost luminous, spot on the extremities of their wings. When they beat their wings very fast, these spots draw semi-circles in the air and create a volume in space.
For me this transient visual effect is as important as the permanent, static dot. Has Nabokov written scientifically about phenomena like these?

Like Shade considering his spiritual form in IPH, or Paradise, I'm particularly puzzled by such insects which metamorphose. Do they have a "true face" (three in one) from the options puppa/nymph, catterpilar, butterfly? Or is it only as winged samuelis that they reach heaven?

Victor, a quirk in time or overlapping pattern in the carpeting of your post suggested to me a new stretch of longevity in VN, when you mentioned that "Scudder worked in the same Museum of Comparative Zoology as Nabokov". It took me a second to find out my mistake, but actually, when sharing the same external "object" Scudder and Nabokov would in fact become contemporaneous... When we laugh at an old joke our present joy transcends time...


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