Vladimir Nabokov might be best known as a novelist, specifically as the author of Lolita, but what many might not know is that one of his deepest passions was studying butterflies.
Now, a new book from Yale University Press honors his dedication to the delicate creatures. The book, Fine Lines, is a collection of more than 150 of his scientific illustrations of butterflies, rivaling John James Audubon in their detail.
“…The book also shed light on Nabokov’s confusing legacy with regard to mimicry…Seasoned experts on various aspects of Nabokov’s legacy weigh in on the tricky questions about his dual pursuits in science and arts. Victoria Alexander of the Dactyl Foundation addresses Nabokov’s understanding of nature in light of more current ‘post-Darwinian’ views of evolutionary processes….”
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11 7 PM FREE
“Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry: The Artist as Scientist”
Victoria N Alexander
Public Scholars, NY Council for the Humanities: In collaboration with the NY Council for the Humanities, the Rosendale Public Library presents a slide/lecture on the controversial novelist and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, that reveals his insights into the mysteries of mimicry and how the scientific community responded to his studies. Fantastic images of insect mimicry will be used as examples of how important art is to good science. This event is made possible through the Public Scholars program with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“….I also enjoyed Victoria Alexander’s Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes, and the ‘Non-Utilitarian Delights’ of Butterfly Mimicry… While some of the science is quite technical, her writing is clear and also lyrical.” Continue reading
Today we’ll be speaking with New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar Victoria Alexander about the relation between art and science – and the novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov.
In addition to being a Council Public Scholar, Victoria is the Director of the Dactyl Foundation, where she facilitates interaction between artists and scientists. See more.
“One of the most revealing essays in the volume is Victoria N. Alexander’s examination of the way Nabokov’s views on butterfly evolution enlivened his imagination.”
WYBCX The Art World Demystified, Hosted by Brainard Carey
In this 45 min interview, VN Alexander’s talks with Brainard about why art is so important to learning, about the little-known “artistic” evolutionary mechanisms (other than mutation/gradual selection) that help create new species, about what the term “intelligence” in “artificial intelligence” means, about the difference between computer algorithms and poetic thinking –and lots more.
My favorite novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, is also my favorite evolutionary theorist. There is a fine line between art and science. In this beautiful coffee-table book, edited by Stephen Blackwell and Kurt Johnson, I have an essay called, “Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes and the ‘Non-utilitarian Delights’ of Insect Mimicry.”
And in Nature: