Friday, May 24, 2024

The “grand Sylvain”, the “Poplar Admirable” (or Admiral), and the “Grosser Eisvogel” in Léon-Paul Fargue, Vladimir Nabokov, and Anne Duden

As Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was not only a novelist but a lepidopterist, his memoir "Speak, Memory" (1951/1966) is full of butterflies and moths, and once, he even lists lepidopterans in literature, including the "grand Sylvain" or "Poplar Admirable" in "Les quatre journées" (1941) by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947). Nabokov uses the older expression, "Admirable". I first learned that butterfly's English name when I once came across a "Grosser Eisvogel" in "Hingegend", a poem I was translating by Anne Duden; I first thought of the "Kingfisher" ("Eisvogel") but then found out that the "Grosser Eisvogel" is the "Poplar Admiral." (But in the end, Duden told me she was referring to a large kingfisher!) (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 24 May 2024)

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