Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
The fame of his likes circulates briskly but soon grows heavy and stale; and as for history it will limit his life story to the dash between two dates.
The pale organisms of literary heroes feeding under the author's supervision swell gradually with the reader's lifeblood; so that the genius of a writer consists in giving them the faculty to adapt themselves to that - not very appetizing - food and thrive on it, sometimes for centuries.
The summer night was starless and stirless, with distant spasms of silent lightning.
There are teachers and students with square minds who are by nature meant to undergo the fascination of categories. For them, 'schools' and 'movements' are everything; by painting a group symbol on the brow of mediocrity, they condone their own incomprehension of true genius.
There was a time in my demented youth when somehow I suspected that the truth about survival after death was known to every human being: I alone knew nothing, and a great conspiracy of books and people hid the truth from me.
Time is rhythm: the insect rhythm of a warm humid night, brain ripple, breathing, the drum in my temple—these are our faithful timekeepers; and reason corrects the feverish beat.
Under no circumstances would he [Humbert Humbert] have interfered with the innocence of a child, if there was the least risk of a row.
We live in a stocking which is in the process of being turned inside out, without our ever knowing for sure to what phase of the process our moment of consciousness corresponds.
When we remember our former selves, there is always that little figure with its long shadow stopping like an uncertain belated visitor on a lighted threshold at the far end of some impeccably narrowing corridor.
Writing the profession in which you stare at a computer screen, stare out the window, type a few words, then curse repeatedly.
The fire you rubbed left its brand on the most vulnerable, most vicious and tender point of my body. Now I have to pay for your rasping the red rash too strongly, too soon, as charred wood has to pay for burning. When I remain without your caresses, I lose all control of my nerves, nothing exists any more than the ecstasy of friction, the abiding effect of your sting, of your delicious poison.
The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.
The sun is a thief: she lures the sea and robs it. The moon is a thief: he steals his silvery light from the sun. The sea is a thief: it dissolves the moon.
There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer...The three facets of the great writer — magic, story, lesson — are prone to blend in one impression of unified and unique radiance, since the magic of art may be present in the very bones of the story, in the very marrow of thought...Then with a pleasure which is both sensual and intellectual we shall watch the artist build his castle of cards and watch the castle of cards become a castle of beautiful steel and glass.
There was no Lo to behold.
To a joke, then, I owe my first gleam of consciousness—which again has recapitulatory implications, since the first creatures on earth to become aware of time were also the first creatures to smile.
Unless a film of flesh envelops us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveler's helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment, death is communion.
We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless. What on earth can Dorothy Hummerson care for Greece and the Orient with their harems and slaves?
Whenever I start thinking of my love for a person, I am in the habit of immediately drawing radii from my love - from my heart, from the tender nucleus of a personal matter- to monstrously remote points of the universe. Something impels me to measure the consciousness of my love against such unimaginable and incalculable things as the behaviour of nebulae(whose very remoteness seems a form of insanity), the dreadful pitfalls of eternity, the unknowledgeable beyond the unknown, the helplessness, the cold, the sickening involutions and interpenetrations of space and time.
You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
The further I get from the things that I care about, the less I care about how much further away I get.
The pleasures of writing correspond exactly to the pleasures of reading
The term "bend sinister" means a heraldic bar or band drawn from the left side (and popularly, but incorrectly, supposed to denote bastardy). This choice of title was an attempt to suggest an outline broken by refraction, a distortion in the mirror of being, a wrong turn taken by life, a sinistral and sinister world. The title's drawback is that a solemn reader looking for "general ideas" or "human interest" (which is much the same thing) in a novel may be led to look for them in this one.
There are two kinds of visual memory: one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open (and then I see Annabel in such general terms as: honey-colored kins, 'thin arms, brown bobbed hair, long lashes, big bright mouth_; and the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes on the dark inner side of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors (and this is how I see Lolita).
There would have been a lake. There would have been an arbor in flame-flower. There would have been nature studies—a tiger pursuing a bird of paradise, a choking snake sheathing whole the flayed trunk of a shoat. There would have been a sultan, his face expressing great agony (belied, as it were, by his molding caress), helping a callypygean slave child to climb a column of onyx. There would have been those luminous globules of gonadal glow that travel up the opalescent sides of juke boxes. There would have been all kinds of camp activities on the part of the intermediate group, Canoeing, Coranting, Combing Curls in the lakeside sun. There would have been poplars, apples, a suburban Sunday. There would have been a fire opal dissolving within a ripple-ringed pool, a last throb, a last dab of color stinging red, smarting pink, a sigh, a wincing child.