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The first comprehensive, interdisciplinary accounting of Nabokov's scientific work, its significance in his artistry, and his contribution to evolutionary theory 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. This volume 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.
Most famous as a literary artist, Vladimir Nabokov was also a professional biologist and a lifelong student of science. By exploring the refractions of physics, psychology, and biology within his art and thought, "The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov's Art and the Worlds of Science, by Stephen H. Blackwell, demonstrates how aesthetic sensibilities contributed to Nabokov's scientific work, and how his scientific passions shape, inform, and permeate his fictions. " Nabokov's attention to holistic study and inductive empirical work gradually reinforced his underlying suspicion of mechanistic explanations of nature. He perceived chilling parallels between the overconfidence of scientific progress and the dogmatic certainty of the Soviet regime. His scientific work and his artistic transfigurations of science underscore the limitations of human knowledge as a defining element of life. In provocative novels like "Lolita, "" "Pale Fire, " "The Gift, " "Ada"," "" and others, Nabokov advances a surprisingly modest epistemology, urging skepticism toward all portrayals of nature, artistic "and" scientific. Simultaneously, he challenges his readers to recognize in the arts a vital branch of human discovery, one that both complements and informs traditional scientific research.
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