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‘Lolita’ Author Nabokov Was Right About Butterflies

I know it shouldn’t be shocking that authors have hobbies outside of sitting hunched over desks writing, and some of those hobbies can include biology. But it’s always nice to have a quick reminder of that. Case in point: Nabokov – amateur-yet-accurate lepidopterist, or budding butterfly biologist, whichever better suits your tastes.

Courtesy of NPR:

Naomi Pierce from Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology reports that the author of the book "Lolita" got it absolutely right when it came to butterfly biology and morphology:

"Vladimir Nabokov is best known for penning classics like Lolita and Pale Fire, but he was also pretty handy with a butterfly net. Nabokov was a talented amateur lepidopterist…
In the paper, Nabokov laid out how these butterflies left Southeast Asia and came across the Bering land bridge and down into South America in five waves, beginning about 11 million years ago. The paper was written with the flair of a fiction author.

"He describes a biologist in a Wellsian time machine, coming up through the Cenozoic," Pierce says. "First they’ll see this group, and then the next group, and then the next group. And he’s very precise about both the ordering of those groups, the classification of those groups, and the timing."

More at NPR….



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.