Nabokov's lepidoptery long posed a question: Was he an amateur or a professional entomologist? Today, it has been amply demonstrated that he was a professional. Kurt Johnson says, "For Nabokov, as with many, fascination with the big picture books of butterflies as a young child grew to concerted collecting as a youngster. As with many scientists, these impressions of youth become a driving life force."3 Nabokov started collecting butterflies in 1906, at age seven, and never ceased; he published his first book of poems ten years later, at age seventeen; his first research paper on butterflies, at age twenty; and his first novel, Mashenka [Mary], at age twenty-six. To quote Dieter Zimmer, "For Nabokov lepidoptery was not a mere hobby. It was a lifelong passionate interest that began when he just turned seven, eight years before he began to compose his first poems, with his first Old World Swallowtail in Vyra."4
A Few Notes on Nabokov's Childhood EntomologyBiological Sciences Faculty Research
Citation InformationFet, Victor. “Notes on Nabokov's childhood entomology.” Fine Lines: Nabokov's Scientific Art, edited by Stephen H. Blackwell and Kurt Johnson, Yale UP, 2016, pp. 216-224.