Vladimir Nabokov

Johnson, Kurt and Coates, Steven L. Nabokov's Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius. 1999

Bibliographic title

Nabokov's Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius

Publication year

Chapter 1 available in Zembla.

See also DBJ's note on this book from NABKV-L.


Vladimir Nabokov had no formal training in biology, but during the 1940s he was an acknowledged expert on "Blues," a family of butterflies that inhabit some of the remotest parts of Latin and South America. In 1945 he published a radical new classification of Blues, a paper that initially caused a stir in the rarified field of lepidoptery. However, it was fifty years before scientists followed up on his pioneering work. Part biography and part detective story, "Nabokov's Blues" explores the rich and varied place butterflies hold in Nabokov's fiction, as well as far-reaching questions of bio-geography and evolution, and the worldwide crisis of ecology and biodiversity.