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Moths, Butterflies, and Bad Writers

From a letter to Elena Sikorski, August 3, 1950
From Ithaca, New York. In Russian.

DON'T read Sartre -- fashionable nonsense, already forgotten, and Miller is talentless obscenity. When I want good reading, I reread Proust's A La Recherche du Temps Perdu or Joyce's Ulysses. Moth lure: treacle and beer (flat) half in half, prepare in the afternoon, before use add a little glass of rum (per half-bucket), smear at head-height with a painter's brush the bark (coarser) of leafy trees (oldish), 20-30 trees before dark. Cover the moths with a glass or jar, with cotton wool soaked in chloroform at the bottom. Did I write you that I had discovered and described several new species and that there exist several named nabokovi in my honor? I must say that I have changed ridiculously little over all these years.

[Perepiska s sestroy 63]

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Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 2000; Nabokov's Butterflies, Moths, Butterflies, and Bad Writers - 00.04; Volume 285, No. 4; page 72.