Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
We are most artistically caged.
What is this jest in majesty? This ass in passion? How do God and Devil combine to form a live dog?
Why do those people guess so much and shave so little, and are so disdainful of hearing aids?
The lost glove is happy.
The sky was so heartless and dark, and her body, her head, and particularly those damned thirsty trousers, felt clogged with Oceanus Nox, n,o,x. At every slap and splash of cold wild salt, she heaved with anise-flavored nausea and there was an increasing number, okay, or numbness in her neck and arms. As she began losing track of herself, she thought it proper to inform a series of receding Lucettes -- telling them to pass it on and on in a trick-crystal regression -- that what death amounted to was only a more complete assortment of the infinite fractions of solitude.
Then the anguish increased to unendurable massivity and nightmare dimensions, making her scream and vomit. She wanted...to have her dark curls shaved to an aquamarine prickle, because they grew into her porous skull and curled inside. Jigsaw pieces of sky or wall came apart, no matter how delicately put together, but a careless jolt or a nurses elbow can disturb so easily those lightweight fragments which became incomprehensible blancs of anonymous objects, or the blank backs of Scrabble counters, which she could not turn over sunny side up, because her hands had been tied by a male nurse with Demons black eyes.
There is nothing dictators hate so much as that unassailable, eternally elusive, eternally provoking gleam. One of the main reasons why the very gallant Russian poet Gumilev was put to death by Lenin's ruffians thirty odd years ago was that during the whole ordeal, in the prosecutor's dim office, in the torture house, in the winding corridors that led to the truck, in the truck that took him to the place of execution, and at that place itself, full of the shuffling feet of the clumsy and gloomy shooting squad, the poet kept smiling.
This, and much more, she accepted - for after all living did mean accepting the loss of one joy after another, not even joys in her case – mere possibilities of improvement. She thought of the endless waves of pain that for some reason or other she and her husband had to endure; of the invisible giants hurting her boy in some unimaginable fashion; of the incalculable amount of tenderness contained in the world; of the fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed, or wasted, or transformed into madness; of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners; of beautiful weeds that cannot hide from the farmer and helplessly have to watch the shadow of his simian stoop leave mangled flowers in its wake, as the monstrous darkness approaches.
Toska noun /tsk/ Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness. No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, lovesickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.
We are now ready to tackle Dickens. We are now ready to embrace Dickens. We are now ready to bask in Dickens. In our dealings with Jane Austen we had to make a certain effort in order to join the ladies in the drawing room. In the case of Dickens we remain at table with our tawny port.
What makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art
Why is it so difficult—so degradingly difficult—to bring the notion of Time into mental focus and keep it there for inspection? What an effort, what fumbling, what irritating fatigue!
The more gifted and talkative one's characters are, the greater the chances of their resembling the author in tone or tint of mind.
The smooth sizzle of a passing motorcar.
Then, after all the excitement, I shall experience a certain satiation of suffering--perhaps on the mountain pass to a kind of happiness which it is too early for me to know (I know only that when I reach it, it will be with pen in hand).
There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.
This, to use an American term in which discovery, retribution, torture, death, eternity appear in the shape of a singularly repulsive nutshell, was it.
Treading the soil of the moon, palpitating its pebbles, tasting the panic and splendor of the event, feeling in the pit of one's stomach the separation from terra - these form the most romantic sensation an explorer has ever known.
We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night every night, every night the moment I feigned sleep.
What moment in that gradual decay does resurrection choose? What year? Who has the stopwatch? Who rewinds the tape? Are some less lucky, or do all escape? A syllogism; other men die but I am not another: therefore I'll not die.
Why should I tolerate a perfect stranger at the bedside of my mind?
The day, like the previous days, dragged sluggishly by in a kind of insipid idleness, devoid even of that dreamy expectancy which can make idleness so enchanting.
The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
The softness and fragility of baby animals caused us the same intense pain. She wanted to be a nurse in some famished Asiatic country; I wanted to be a famous spy.