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An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect

Butterflies have always served as a metaphor for resurrection and transformation, but as Sharman Apt Russell points out in this lyrical meditation, butterflies are above all objects of obsession. She reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies and introduces us to the legendary collectors and dedicated scientists who have obsessively catalogued new species of Lepidoptera. A luminous journey through an exotic world of passion and strange beauty, this is a book to be treasured by anyone who has ever experienced the enchantment of butterflies.

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Tags: Butterflies, Long, Obsession, Singular, Love, Affair, Insect


  1. R. Hardy "Rob Hardy" says:

    Full of Color, Full of Life We generally do not like insects; when they come to our notice, it is usually because they irritate, pain, or impoverish us. But everyone loves butterflies, and everyone has done so since early childhood. They are fascinating natural specimens, and their colors fill us with admiration and wonder. It isn’t surprising that they have caused obsessions in many people in many centuries. In _An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect_ (Perseus Publishing), Sharman Apt Russell has packed some taxonomy of butterflies, and also biology, but also a history about the obsessed and a chronicle of butterfly culture. Russell reveals that she is obsessed herself, but her obsession translates into an enthusiastic and poetic look at science and history that is full of life and color.

  2. merrymousies says:

    Fantastic!! I thoroughly loved this book – it had interesting butterfly information, stories from the early times of butterfly collecting, and other great insights. It usually takes me awhile to read books due to usually being exhausted after work and only getting through a few pages per night but this one I just couldn’t put down. I admit it, I do have an obsession with butterflies, but that goes for all of nature and the gifts of mother earth – so the subject matter was right up my alley. It gives good history and good interesting facts about butterflies. Loved it!

  3. R. Gordon says:

    Rewarding and entertaining read I picked up this slim volume for a quick read and was treated to a meditation on the subject of butterfly species, as well as the insect and plant world. The book overflows with information, but the wealth of details never seems dry or textbookish. I laughed out loud at times with the insights about the subject’s mating and survival behaviors revealed with wonderfully wry comparisons to everyday events. I’m left with the feeling that while seemingly a fluke of nature (“if all butterflies disappeared so would a few flowers-but not many”), the butterfly fits in nature’s web through complex relationships with the plants and insects that inhabit its domain: Ants that become the children to the caterpillar’s Pied Piper and plants whose leaves mimic the appearance of ones that have been ravaged by the caterpillar. And perhaps, most telling our own relationship to these singular creatures: as eccentrics, as collectors, as art appreciators, as naturalists, and as scientists. I count myself among a select group of those who have taken the time to learn about the natural world from the point of view of the butterfly. This is the rare book that is greater than the sum of the details due to the author’s exceptional, wide-angle approach to a multifaceted puzzle. A pleasure to read for the humor and insight.

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