Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000163, Fri, 24 Dec 1993 11:41:33 -0800

VN Butterflies
New Publication on VN's Butterflies

When Nabokov died in July 1977, he left his post-1960 European
butterfly collection to the Musee cantonal de Zoologie in Lausanne.
There were 4,323 specimens, requiring extensive work for their
permanent preservation. In honor of their donor, the museum staged a
special exhibition of Nabokov's butterflies between 26 November 1993
and 29 January 1994. The exhibits were arranged in chronological order
so that the viewer could retrace VN's collecting expeditions from 1961
through 1975. As a part of its celebration the museum has published a
handsome volume called LES PAPILLONS DE NABOKOV, ed. Michel Satori.
Lausanne: Musee cantonal de Zoologie, 1993 (ISBN 2-9700051-0-7). The
price is 25 Swiss francs plus postage.
The illustrated volume consists of three parts: 1) the exhibition
catalogue, largely adapted from that prepared for an earlier exhib-
ition on VN's butterflies in Milan (1991-1992), sketches VN's life and
the place of lepidoptery in it [pp. 3-24]. There are good black and
white photos of various butterflies that figure in VN's fiction plus
some well known ones of VN himself. 2) the second and far more impor-
tant section [pp. 25-171] is Dieter Zimmer's "Nabokov's Lepidoptera:
An Annotated Multilingual Checklist (English-Latin-French-German-
Italian-Spanish)." Zimmer lucidly explains butterfly nomenclature and
surveys Nabokov's general thoughts on his lifelong (a-)vocation. He
then gives a full alphabetical list of all of the butterflies men-
tioned in VN's works by their scientific and popular names. Also pro-
vided are sections on butterflies named by and for Nabokov, notes on
lepidopterists mentioned by Nabokov, a bibliography of VN's technical
writings on butterflies, butterfly references in VN interviews, and a
general bibliography. 3) The third and final section [pp. 173-200] is
editor Michel Satori's catalogue of VN's collection arranged in
standard taxonomic order with field notes on their time and place of
capture. The first and third sections are in French; the much longer
middle section--in English.
Dieter Zimmer's monograph delivers immensely more than its modest
title suggests and makes the volume an essential item on the shelf of
all serious students of Nabokov.
D. Barton Johnson, Editor