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Stalking Nabokov$
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Brian Boyd

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158572

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158572.001.0001

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A Centennial Toast

A Centennial Toast

(p.3) 1. A Centennial Toast
Stalking Nabokov

Brain Boyd

Columbia University Press

This chapter is the author's centennial toast, made on the occasion of a centennial dinner at Trinity College, Cambridge, where Vladimir Nabokov dined in his Trinity years (1919–1922). Through his work with lepidopterists who had known Nabokov or specialized in the same butterfly families as he had, the author learned of John Downey, the expert in the Blues a generation after Nabokov. As a biology student driving a mining truck for his summer job, Downey had met Nabokov collecting butterflies on the slopes of the Wasatch Mountains in 1943, an encounter that inspired him to become a specialist in the Blues himself. What strikes the author about Nabokov's encounter with Downey is the demands he makes, the conditions he imposes, on the truck driver. The story suggests Nabokov's demanding but ultimately generous relationship to his readers, which reflects his sense of the demanding but ultimately generous world that life offers us.

Keywords:   butterflies, Trinity College, Vladimir Nabokov, John Downey, Blues, Wasatch Mountains, readers

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