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Mary, p. 91: “like a cabbage white butterfly”

July 15, 2010

The exchange of letters between Ganin and Mary is evocatively described:  “There was something touching and wonderful about the way their letters managed to pass across the terrible Russia of that time–like a cabbage white butterfly flying over the trenches.” Once more, the communication of romance takes place against the backdrop–more precisely, across the trenches–of war.  The butterfly Nabokov is referring to in this passage is likely the Large White (Pieris brassicae), also variously known as the Cabbage Buttefly, the Cabbage White, and Large Cabbage White.  It is common in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia.  It is pictured below:

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