The Butterfly Hunter
This is just charming. It’s a fairly well known fact that Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, was also lepidopterist. He was the curator of butterflies at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. But did you know that he sketched them too? These drawings were intended for his family, and are extremely personal; he drew them on title pages of various editions of his books as a gift to his wife Vera, and his son. None of these drawings are scientifically accurate. In fact, they’re not even real species. Rather, they are from his imagination, and their names he assigns them often have some connection to the book that the butterfly adorns.
This is not to say Nabokov’s interest in butterflies was unscientific. His scientific pursuits were vindicated last year, when one of his theories on the evolution of Polyommatus blues was backed by evidence. Using DNA sequencing techniques, scientists showed that this group of butterflies did indeed evolve from Asia into the New World, essentially migrating from Siberia to Alaska and then all the way down to South America across the Bering Strait.
To me, these drawing encapsulate the wonder and enthusiasm he felt for his subject. It is science, viewed through the eyes of art. It is beautiful and poignant, and a reminder that science is all around us, and we can apply these principles to every aspect of our interests.
h/t Mindy Weisberger via that other social network that shall not be named here.
#ScienceEveryday #SciArt #Nabokov #Butterfly