Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
Russian-born American Novelist, Poet, Critic
The growth of his power and fame was matched, in my imagination, by the degree of the punishment I would have liked to inflict on him. Thus, at first, I would have been content with an electoral defeat, a cooling of public enthusiasm. Later I already required his imprisonment; still later, his exile to some distant, flat island with a single palm tree, which, like a black asterisk, refers one to the bottom of an eternal hell made of solitude, disgrace, and helplessness. Now, at last, nothing but his death could satisfy me.
The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as we'll disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road.
The wedding was a quiet affair, and when called upon to enjoy my promotion from lodger to lover did I experience only bitterness and distaste? No.
There is also a keen pleasure (and after all, what else should the pursuit of science produce?) in meeting the riddle of the initial blossoming of man's mind by postulating a voluptuous pause in the growth of the rest of nature, a lolling and loafing which allowed first of all the formation of Homo poeticus-- without which sapiens could not have been evolved. Struggle for life indeed! The curse of battle and toil leads man back to the boar, to the grunting beast's crazy obsession with the search for food. You and I have frequently remarked upon that maniacal glint in a housewife's scheming eye as it roves over food in a grocery or about the morgue of a butcher's shop. Toilers of the world, disband! Old books are wrong. The world was made on a Sunday.
This then is my story. i have reread it. it has bits of marrow sticking to it, and blood, and beautiful bright-green flies. At this or that twist of it i feel my slippery self-eluding me, gliding into deeper and darker waters than i care to probe.
To think that between a Hamburger and a Humburger, she would—invariably, with icy precision—plump for the former.
We all have such fateful objects -- it may be a recurrent landscape in one case, a number in another -- carefully chosen by the gods to attract events of specific significance for us: here shall John always stumble; there shall Jane's heart always break.
What chatty Madam Shpolyanski mentioned had conjured up Mira's image with unusual force. This was disturbing. Only in the detachment of an incurable complaint, in the sanity of near death, could one cope with this for a moment. In order to exist rationally, Pnin had taught himself...never to remember Mira Belochkin - not because...the evocation of a youthful love affair, banal and brief, threatened his peace of mind...but because, if one were quite sincere with oneself, no conscience, and hence no consciousness, could be expected to subsist in a world where such things as Mira's death were possible. One had to forget - because one could not live with the thought that this graceful, fragile, tender young woman with those eyes, that smile, those gardens and snows in the background, had been brought in a cattle car and killed by an injection of phenol into the heart, into the gentle heart one had heard beating under one's lips in the dusk of the past.
Who can say what heartbreaks are caused in a dog by our discontinuing a romp?
You talk like a book.
The kind of poem I produced in those days was hardly anything more than a sign I made of being alive, of passing or having passed, or hoping to pass, through certain intense human emotions. It was a phenomenon of orientation rather than of art, thus comparable to stripes of paint on a roadside rock or to a pillared heap of stones marking a mountain trail. But then, in a sense, all poetry is positional: to try to express one's position in regard to the universe embraced by consciousness, is an immemorial urge. Tentacles, not wings, are Apollo's natural members. Vivian Bloodmark, a philosophical friend of mine, in later years, used to say that while the scientist sees everything that happens in one point of space, the poet feels everything that happens in one point of time.
The sense of literary creation is to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right: the times when a man who might put on the most ordinary jacket of today will be dressed up for an elegant masquerade.
The writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
There is an old American saying 'He who lives in a glass house should not try to kill two birds with one stone.
This twinned twinkle was delightful but not completely satisfying; or rather it only sharpened my appetite for other tidbits of light and shade, and I walked on in a state of raw awareness that seemed to transform the whole of my being into one big eyeball rolling in the world's socket. Through peacocked lashes I saw the dazzling diamond reflection of the low sun on the round back of a parked automobile. To all kinds of things a vivid pictorial sense had been restored by the sponge of the thaw. Water in overlapping festoons flowed down one sloping street and turned gracefully into another. With ever so slight a note of meretricious appeal, narrow passages between buildings revealed treasures of brick and purple. I remarked for the first time the humble fluting - last echoes of grooves on the shafts of columns - ornamenting a garbage can, and I also saw the rippling upon its lid - circles diverging from a fantastically ancient center. Erect, dark-headed shapes of dead snow (left by the blades of a bulldozer last Friday) were lined up like rudimentary penguins along the curbs, above the brilliant vibration of live gutters. I walked up, and I walked down, and I walked straight into a delicately dying sky, and finally the sequence of observed and observant things brought me, at my usual eating time, to a street so distant from my usual eating place that I decided to try a restaurant which stood on the fringe of the town. Night had fallen without sound or ceremony when I came out again. (The Vane Sisters)
Today one does not hear much about him.... 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.
We are absurdly accustomed to the miracle of a few written signs that are able to contain immortal images, spirals of thought, new worlds with live people who talk, cry and laugh. We accept it with such simplicity that somehow, by the very act of acceptance and insensitive routinely undo the work of all time, the story of the gradual development of poetical description and construction of the hominid Browning, the caveman to Keats. What would happen if we awaken one day, all of us, and we discovered that we were totally unable to read? I want you to dazzle not only with what they read, but with the miracle that something is likely to be read.
What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and divinely enigmatic—one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord.
Why did I hope we would be happy abroad? A change of environment is that traditional fallacy upon which doomed loves, and lungs, rely.
The locomotive, working rapidly with its elbows, hurried through a pine forest, then—with relief—among fields.
The shock of her death froze something in me. The child I loved, was gone, but I kept looking for her - long after I had left my own childhood behind. The poison was in the wound, you see. And the wound wouldn't heal.
Then slid up my arms that were waiting, radiant, relaxed, caressing me with her ??tender, mysterious, impure, indifferent eyes of twilight-neither more nor less than the most of the cheap whores. Nymphets. Why imitate them-while between the complaining we die
This whole psychiatry is nothing else but a kind of microcosm of communism [...]. It would be better left to people their personal problems. For the question arises whether the problems are not the only thing in the world that people may have on the property?
Today our unsophisticated cameras record in their own way our hastily assembled and painted world.