Sunday, 14 July 2013
Talking of Butterflies...
Talking of butterflies, here's that great butterfly lover (and significant lepidopterist) Vladimir Nabokov talking - or rather, writing, for his contributions to 'interviews' were always written - about the inadequacy of literary language, even his, in describing them, and giving his own startling perspective on the matter:
'In itself, an aurelian's passion is not a particularly unusual sickness; but it stands outside the limits of a novelist's world, and I can prove this by the fact that whenever I allude to butterflies in my novels, no matter how diligently I rework the stuff, it remains pale and false and does not really express what I want it to express-- what, indeed, it can only express in the special scientific terms of my entomological papers. The butterfly that lives forever on its type-labeled pin and in its O. D. ("original description") in a scientific journal dies a messy death in the fumes of the arty gush. However-- not to let your question go completely unanswered-- 1 must admit that in one sense the entomological satellite does impinge upon my novelistic globe. This is when certain place-names are mentioned. Thus if I hear or read the words "Alp Grum, Engadine" the normal observer within me may force me to imagine the belvedere of a tiny hotel on its 2000-meter-tall perch and mowers working along a path that winds down to a toy railway; but what I see first of all and above all is the Yellow-banded Ringlet settled with folded wings on the flower that those damned scythes are about to behead.'
(The Ringlet in the picture is our own Ringlet, not the Yellow-banded, a species of the high Alps.)