Lolita and Butterfly Aesthetics

Jiabing YIN


Vladimir Nabokov, best known as the author of Lolita, was also recognized as a scientist excelling in the field of lepidoptera. As a literary figure, Nabokov has long been acclaimed as a metaphysical seeker, a composer of esoteric riddles, and a virtuoso of postmodern literary techniques. However, his reputation as a lauded entomologist has only drawn underestimated literary attention in the interpretation of Lolita, the novel in concern. This paper contends that a consideration of the interplay between Nabokov’s scientific spirit and artistic aesthetics will contribute to the understanding of this long-debatable novel. The paper attempts to provide a unique perspective by addressing the influence of his butterfly aesthetics on the fiction, which exhibits itself through three identifiable and distinct aspects of mimicry, respectively mimicry of butterflies, deceptive camouflage, and metamorphosis. This effort intends to add to the current literature of Nabokov study regarding a balanced view of the author’s scientific spirit and literary aesthetics in the interpretation of his established literary classics.



Butterfly Aesthetics; Lolita; Mimicry

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