NABOKV-L post 0006867, Wed, 2 Oct 2002 13:11:19 -0700

Subject
Author responsere Robinson's TLS review of _Nabokov's Blues-n
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----- Original Message -----
From: Johnson, Kurt
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 7:30 AM
Subject: RE: Fw: Nabokov's Blues again


Well, to each his own. It seems to me that Mr. (not Mrs. [just joking]) Robinson had his mind made up about Nabokov in advance and is generally not positive toward many angles of "Nabokoviana" (e.g. "Nabokov worship?"). The level of accuracy in some of his perceptions seems reflected by his saying that Nabokov's Blues was published after Nabokov's Butterflies which, of course, is not the case (by a year or so) [it's the other way around]. I wonder also where he got the idea that Nabokov's scientific papers were generally no better or worse than anything else of the period; I thought that was exactly what we were examining by looking at them in much more detail and depth. Robinson's view [or wherever he heard it] seems to have not been swayed, which is esp. odd since Nabokov's morphology was FAR MORE profusely illustrated than in other papers of the time (at least on Blues); perhaps Mr. Robinson was comparing them to papers on other groups of butterflies, as S. J. Gould also did. Our comparisons were about literature on Blues, or lycaenids in general, at the time, a literature which I know extremely well. A couple reviewers seem to have missed that point. But, anyway, yes, lepidopterists are "close" to the subject. Thus, there was really no more reason for us to cite Eliot's work than C. A. Bridges' work (who published several very useful [as library tools] volumes of lists of names with which Mr. Robinson may not be familiar). Eliot's work, like Bridges', when it came to lists of taxonomic names was simply a bibliographical review of the literature, which Eliot attached in addendum fashion to his own original work, which delineated new "Tribes"; that is, once Eliot broke down the Lycaenidae into his new "Tribes", he then attached a list of the "available" names in those categories. Eliot says (I don't know whether Mr. Robinson has actually read his work), in the Introduction and Discussion of his own work, that his concern was not with the validity of genera or those categories lower than the "Tribes" that he erected. Actually, Eliot (who is a good friend of mine) is not that well versed in Nabokov's work-- even his latest biogeographical work (published in Japan) leaves out reference to any work on Nabokov's blues after 1945. So, it appears that John's (Eliot) familiarity with Nabokov's work, or work on Nabokov's Blues (as in his classic 1973 work on higher categories), is pretty much limited to the bibliographical listing of the taxa in Nabokov's work from 1940-45 etc. But, reviewers do sound authoritative and so it goes. That's the "tyranny of it all" [again, said humorously]. I suppose people who read Robinson's review simply "won't know better". I thought it might be useful to clear up the details above about Mr. Robinson's view. Eliot made new Tribes but did not, or did not attempt to, answer any questions about the validity of names below that level, except for some suggestions of "Sections" and even these were simply culled from the literature. I suppose that Mr. Robinson perhaps made a cursory look at Eliot's work, saw the addended lists of taxonomic names and assumed that Eliot was "opining" on these. Eliot did not, nor did Bridges, in his [extremely useful, as library tools] copious lists also published on the Lycaenidae. The sad thing of course is that Bridges got tired of it all and committed suicide, but that is another story.

KURT
Dr. Kurt Johnson
-----Original Message-----
From: D. Barton Johnson [mailto:chtodel@cox.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 1:46 PM
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Subject: Fw: Nabokov's Blues again


EDITOR's NOTE. NABOKV-L thanks Manfred Voss for the item below. He also report that Tomas Urban's German volume _NABOKOV in BERLIN_ is being remaindered therr.
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I) NABOKOV's BLUES: The Scientific Odyssey of a literary genius by Kurt
Johnson and Steve Coates (Zoland), which received excellent reviews in
many U.S. publications, meets a cooler reception in Gaden S. Robinson's
review in the TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMNTS of MArch 22, 2001 p. 5.


See attachment.