NABOKV-L post 0024174, Mon, 6 May 2013 22:40:11 +0000

Re: ginkgo and butterfly

Yes, great pic, Don. AdaOnline has a pic at 7.27n which illustrates the fan shape of the leaf (rather than the butterfly shape).

Steve, you need not have agonized. Just go to the Library of America notes, note to 502.4-5, where you can read: "Nabokov noted for his French translators: 'Two hundred years ago collectors spread butterflies thus' and made a drawing of butterflies with forewing pulled back under the hindwing, making an outline very like a ginkgo leaf."

Here’s an image of the relevant note, from VN’s corrections to M.E. Coindreau and R. Girards, January 11, 1965, which should not be at the Berg collection (the note is in VN’s handwriting, with similar illustrations, in the margin of p. 84 of the French draft translation in typescript, which should also be there at the Berg:


In general, I do hope people (including the energetic Matthew and Jansy) remember that these cheap editions, with their carefully edited texts and modest notes, are available. And good Nabokovians should also remember that Dieter E. Zimmer’s edition of the Gesammelte Werke also annotates almost all Nabokov’s texts in greater detail than I was allowed for the Library of America, as does the Pléiade edition under Maurice Couturier’s editorship (though for the moment this stops chronologically at Lolita). And my notes to Ada are online and free. We put a lot of work into these notes so that other people can reserve their energies for filling in the gaps we leave or for higher-level problem-solving.

Brian Boyd
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] on behalf of Nabokv-L [nabokv-l@UTK.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, 7 May 2013 6:41 a.m.
Subject: [NABOKV-L] ginkgo and butterfly

Thanks, Don, for that post--great illustration! I have a forthcoming piece on some trees in various works, including this ginkgo in PF. Gerard de Vries also has written about it (and the Goethe poem) in his article <> on Zembla (date 2007-2008, according to the author). I have been trying to figure out what an "old-fashioned butterfly" might be. One thought I had was that it could be an old-fashioned representation of a butterfly--one in an old painting, which we know interested VN around the time he was writing the novel. One of the butterflies he mentions--actually a strange, bird-headed butterfly or moth--does show a wing spread very much like the ginkgo leaf in some images (such as the one Don sent). It's the one in Heironymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, which looks like the wings of some sort of peacock moth --Saturnia pyri? I don't remember VN's identification-- affixed to a bird: e.g. See here for example<,_Hieronymus_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights,_right_panel_-_Detail_Monkey,_man_with_blue_clothes_and_Butterfly_monster.jpg&imgrefurl=,_Hieronymus_-_The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights,_right_panel_-_Detail_Monkey,_man_with_blue_clothes_and_Butterfly_monster.jpg&h=1273&w=1500&sz=1028&tbnid=IXSV0pS6OW4YcM:&tbnh=94&tbnw=111&zoom=1&usg=__CWx8333eKmJXaZ5QCJRQBcpQXE0=&docid=MvMeXSqQ8Kv3lM&sa=X&ei=mPaHUbedLY3A9gTv2YGoAw&ved=0CDMQ9QEwAQ&dur=1327>. De Vries' article makes valuable points about the role of the "muscat grape" in the poem. I am still trying to figure it out.

Stephen Blackwell

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Ginfo leaves ---BUTTERFLIES
Date: Sun, 5 May 2013 17:57:10 -0700
From: Don Johnson <chtodel@COX.NET><mailto:chtodel@COX.NET>

For Carolyn et al. The leaf of the ginko does indeed resemble the wings of a butterfly.

Don Johnson
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