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Nabokov’s butterfly theory


Vladimir Nabokov may be known to most people as the author of classic novels like Lolita and Pale Fire. But even as he was writing those books, Nabokov had a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies.

He was the curator of lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and collected the insects across the United States. He published detailed descriptions of hundreds of species. And in a speculative moment in 1945, he came up with a sweeping hypothesis for the evolution of the butterflies he studied, a group known as the Polyommatus blues. He envisioned them coming to the New World from Asia over millions of years in a series of waves …’

Nabokov’s other life and how his theories have recently been validated by DNA analysis.

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