Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Birds & bees & butterflies

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Didn’t you spend three weeks in Paris last month? Did you see many bees? “Bees Thrive in an Unexpected Paradise: Paris” [Aurelien Breeden, NY Times, May 24]. Excerpt:
If you are a honeybee in France, the best place to live (and work) might be smack in the middle of Paris.
    Audric de Campeau, who set up his first hives in the French capital in 2009, said he was surprised to discover that his Parisian bees produced more than twice as much honey as the ones he kept back in the northeastern Champagne region.
    Mr. de Campeau said that green spaces in Paris and other large cities like New York or London actually had a better mix of trees, flowers and other plants than farming areas dominated by vast single-crop fields. Plus: no crop-dusted pesticides. [read more]
[Editor’s Note: Yes, parks were probably our favorite destination, both in Paris and in La Rochelle.]

Wing of a Karner blue, a species
discovered and named by Nabokov in 1944
“Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator” [Elif Batuman, New Yorker, March 23]. Excerpt:
Vladimir Nabokov began collecting lepidoptera at the age of seven. Throughout a long and protean literary career, his passion for insects remained unwavering. He published his first verses as a teen-ager, shortly before the Russian Revolution; in 1918, he fled St. Petersburg for Crimea, where he surveyed nine species of Crimean moths and seventy-seven species of Crimean butterflies. Two years later, as a first-year student at Cambridge University, he described his observations in a scholarly paper for The Entomologist. In 1940, having written nine novels in Russian and one in English, Nabokov immigrated to New York, where he became an affiliate in entomology at the American Museum of Natural History. The following year, he began working at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, devoting as much as fourteen hours a day to drawing the wings and genitalia of butterflies. Fine Lines, a new book out this week from Yale University Press, reproduces a hundred and fifty-four of his illustrations, some for the first time. [read more]
I so agree with you about the birds [“Life on Earth,” May 20], they are noble and I am thrilled every time I see and hear them, as I am about the other birds I mentioned as well. I am always happier and more aware during spring time and feel sorry for people who do not even notice!

Probably the most questionable claim a Christian, or any other personal-god theist, has made of me is that I am a nihilist. But I affirm and embrace our present life, while they downplay it in the vain hope of something after.
Fritillaria Imperialis, Parc de Bagatelle in Bois de Boulogne, April 14

Nabokov made super rediscoveries of the American west in the late ’40s and early ’50s: “On the Trail of Nabokov in the American West” [Landon Y. Jones, NY Times, May 24] Excerpt:
On his cross-country trips chasing butterflies and researching Lolita, the Russian-born novelist saw more of the
United States than did Fitzgerald, Kerouac, or Steinbeck. [read more]
“ Tracing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Minnesota Roots ” [Jason Diamond, NY Times, April 26] Excerpt:
Before the bootlegged gin of the Jazz Age and wasted days in Paris, before “The Great Gatsby,” lavish parties in Manhattan hotels and Long Island houses, failure in Hollywood and his death of a heart attack at 44, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a kid in the Midwest. Although you catch only glimpses and mentions of it in his stories and novels — usually as the part of the world many of his characters leave for more luxurious destinations — all you have to do is see the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, where he grew up, to begin to understand Fitzgerald. [read more]
Grateful for correspondence, Morris Dean

No comments:

Post a Comment