318 pages, 75 colour & 94 b/w illustrations
This landmark book is the first full appraisal of Vladimir Nabokov's long-neglected contributions as a scientist. Although his literary achievements are renowned, until recently his scientific discoveries were ignored or dismissed by many. Nabokov created well over 1,000 technical illustrations of the anatomical structures of butterflies, seeking to understand the evolutionary diversity of small butterflies called Blues. But only lately have scientists confirmed his meticulous research and vindicated his surprising hypotheses.
Fine Lines reproduces 154 of Nabokov's drawings, few of which have ever been seen in public, and presents essays by ten leading scientists and Nabokov specialists. The contributors underscore the significance of Nabokov's drawings as scientific documents, evaluate his visionary contributions to evolutionary biology and systematics, and offer insights into his unique artistic perception and creativity.
"This collection explains to the layman just why Nabokov's scientific work was so successful and important. The drawings are absolutely stunning – even to someone without a scientific background they are arresting. Lepidopterists will surely want to own it, but more importantly, this will be a treasure for Nabokov fans."
– Eric Naiman, author of Nabokov, Perversely
"This is a very valuable contribution to understanding one of the great novelists of the Twentieth Century. It is a superb example of how a creative mind can combine art and science in ways that make them both greater than they would have otherwise been. A landmark book."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University
"What makes this volume special is not so much its attempt to merge Nabokov's philosophy and science, but its ability to include all the relevant authors on the subject of Nabokov's dual nature."
– Nina Khrushcheva, author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics
"After a period of separation during the 20th century, the convergent territories of science and art are once again providing a fertile ground for understanding the complexities of the world we live in. Fine Lines presents a welcome and rare insight into Nabokov's obsessive attention to detail so prominent in his writing. The rich collection of his illustrations, reveal an unintended artistry born out of meticulous observation. Drawings of wing cells appear like working diagrams for Art Deco rugs and the ambiguous surreal forms of the reproductive organs of butterflies reveal a synchronous synergy with the drawings of Miro and David Smith."
– Rob Kesseler, co-author of Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers
"The wonderful drawings and remarkable essays in this book allow us to trace Nabokov's steps in many ways and on many pages. The result is a long close-up of an ideal form of curiosity."
– Michael Wood, Princeton University
"This detailed and gorgeous volume of Nabokov's scientific achievements inspires both artistic and aesthetic appreciation for readers, historians, and scientists alike."
– Publishers Weekly
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Stephen H. Blackwell is professor of Russian, University of Tennessee. He is the author of The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov's Art and the Worlds of Science. He lives in Knoxville, TN.
Kurt Johnson is author or coauthor of more than 200 journal articles on Lepidoptera and coauthor of Nabokov's Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.