Best 21 of Nabokov quotes - MyQuotes

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

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 to join the ladies in the drawing room. In the case of Dickens we remain at table with our tawny port. With Dickens we expand. It seems to me that Jane Austen's fiction had been a charming re-arrangement of old-fashioned values. In the case of Dickens, the values are new. Modern authors still get drunk on his vintage. Here, there is no problem of approach as with Austen, no courtship, no dallying. We just surrender ourselves to Dickens' voice--that is all. If it were possible I would like to devote fifty minutes of every class meeting to mute meditation, concentration, and admiration of Dickens. However my job is to direct and rationalize those meditations, that admiration. All we have to do when reading Bleak House is to relax and let our spines take over. Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between the shoulder-blades. That little shiver behind is quite certainly the highest form of emotion that humanity has attained when evolving pure art and pure science. Let us worship the spine and its tingle. Let us be proud of being vertebrates, for we are vertebrates tipped at the head with a divine flame. The brain only continues the spine, the wick really runs through the whole length of the candle. If we are not capable of enjoying that shiver, if we cannot enjoy literature, then let us give up the whole thing and concentrate on our comics, our videos, our books-of-the-week. But I think Dickens will prove stronger.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

I cannot separate the aesthetic pleasure of seeing a butterfly and the scientific pleasure of knowing what it is.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

It's exactly my sense of existing - a fragment, a wisp of color.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert: You know, I've missed you terribly. Lolita Haze: I haven't missed you. In fact, I've been revoltingly unfaithful to you. Humbert Humbert: Oh? Lolita Haze: But it doesn't matter a bit, because you've stopped caring anyway. Humbert Humbert: What makes you say I've stopped caring for you? Lolita Haze: Well, you haven't even kissed me yet, have you?

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

She was an extravagantly slender girl. Her ribs showed. The conspicuous knobs of her hipbones framed a hollowed abdomen, so flat as to belie the notion of "belly." Her exquisite bone structure immediately slipped into a novel - became in fact the secret structure of that novel, besides supporting a number of poems.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Eva Hoffman

I wish I could breathe a Nabokovian air. I wish I could have the Olympian freedom of sensibility that disdains, in his autobiography, to give the Russian Revolution more than a passing mention, as if such common events did not have the power to wreak fundamental changes in his own life, or as if it were vulgar, tactless, to dwell on something so brutishly, so crudely collective. I wish I could define myself -a s Nabokov defines both himself and his characters - by the telling detail, as preference for months over lozenges, an awkwardness at cricket, a tendency to lose floes or umbrellas. I wish I could live in a world of prismatic reflections, carefully distinguished colours of sunsets and English scarves, synthetic repetitions and reiterative surprises - a world in which even a reddened nostril can be rendered as a delicious hue rather than a symptom of a discomfiting common cold. I wish I could attain such a world because in part that is our most real, and most loved world - the world of utterly individual sensibility, untrampled by history, or horrid intrusions of social circumstance. Oh ye, I think the Nabokovian world is lighted, lightened, and enlightened by the most precise affection. Such affection is unsentimental because it is free and because it attaches to free objects. It can notice what is adorable (or odious, for that matter), rather than what is formed and deformed by larger forces. Characters, in Nabokov's fiction, being perfectly themselves, attain the graced amorality of aesthetic objects.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

Ich weiß nicht, ob jemals festgestellt wurde, daß ein Hauptmerkmal des Lebens die Separatheit ist. Wenn uns keine Fleischesschicht umhüllt, sterben wir. Der Mensch existiert nur in dem Maße, in dem er von seiner Umwelt abgesondert ist.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

A warm flow of pain was gradually replacing the ice and wood of the anaesthetic in his thawing, still half-dead, abominably martyred mouth. After that, during a few days he was in mourning for an intimate part of himself. It surprised him to realize how fond he had been of his teeth. His tongue, a fat sleek seal, used to flop and slide so happily among the familiar rocks, checking the contours of a battered but still secure kingdom, plunging from cave to cove, climbing this jag, nuzzling that notch, finding a shred of sweet seaweed in the same old cleft; but now not a landmark remained, and all there existed was a great dark wound, a terra incognita of gums which dread and disgust forbade one to investigate. And when the plates were thrust in, it was like a poor fossil skull being fitted with the grinning jaws of a perfect stranger.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

The best part of a writer's biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style. [Vogue, interview, 1969]

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct, as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half-pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again; and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Richard M. Rorty

Vladimir Nabokov and George Orwell had quite different gifts, and their self-images were quite different. But, I shall argue, their accomplishment was pretty much the same. Both of them warn the liberal ironist intellectual against temptations to be cruel. Both of them dramatise the tension between private irony and liberal hope. In the following passage, Nabokov helped blur the distinctions which I want to draw: ...'Lolita' has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only in so far as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which very often is topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann. Orwell blurred the same distinctions when, in one of his rare descents into rant, "The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda," he wrote exactly the sort of thing Nabokov loathed: You cannot take a purely aesthetic interest in a disease you are dying from; you cannot feel dispassionately about a man who is about to cut your throat. In a world in which Fascism and Socialism were fighting one another, any thinking person had to take sides... This period of ten years or so in which literature, even poetry was mixed up with pamphleteering, did a great service to literary criticism, because it destroyed the illusion of pure aestheticism... It debunked art for art's sake.

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

There are few poets today who can equal, in their esthetic exploitation of language, in their depth of commitment to their medium, in their range of conceptual understanding, in the purity of their closed forms, the work of Nabokov, Borges, Beckett, Barth, Broch, Gaddis, or Calvino, or any of half-a-dozen extraordinarily gifted South Americans.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

The dining-room was curiously impersonal, like all places where people eat,—perhaps because food is our chief link with the common chaos of matter rolling about us.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

Why did I hope we would be happy abroad? A change of environment is that traditional fallacy upon which doomed loves, and lungs, rely.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which very often is topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

At eight, he had once told his mother that he wanted to paint air.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Jeffrey Tayler

I fear no hell, just as I expect no heaven. Nabokov summed up a nonbeliever’s view of the cosmos, and our place in it, thus: “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” The 19th-century Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle put it slightly differently: “One life. A little gleam of Time between two Eternities.” Though I have many memories to cherish, I value the present, my time on earth, those around me now. I miss those who have departed, and recognize, painful as it is, that I will never be reunited with them. There is the here and now – no more. But certainly no less. Being an adult means, as Orwell put it, having the “power of facing unpleasant facts.” True adulthood begins with doing just that, with renouncing comforting fables. There is something liberating in recognizing ourselves as mammals with some fourscore years (if we’re lucky) to make the most of on this earth. There is also something intrinsically courageous about being an atheist. Atheists confront death without mythology or sugarcoating. That takes courage.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

¡Que rara es la vida! La suerte nos abandona cuando más propicia deseamos que nos sea.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Mary Gaitskill

Music is a form that tends to give shape to rules, social mores, social attitudes, feelings—it does this in a very beautiful, fluid way. To me the issue of form and formlessness is most strong in the theme of mortality versus a human wish for immortality of a sort. Take, for example, the definition of beauty in fashion. Remember what Alison says at the beginning? She says when she was young she didn’t know what beautiful was. She looked at this woman who everyone was saying was beautiful and she didn’t even know what they were talking about. I experienced that when I was a child. If I loved someone I thought they were really beautiful. And then eventually, I began to get it, the social concept of beauty. Not that I think beautiful is completely imaginary, but beauty is so wide ranging and fluid. Yet there’s a need to say: “This is what it is, and it’s not changing; we’re taking a picture of it to hold it still.” It’s like an impulse to put up a building meant to last forever. An urge to grab and hold something in place when nothing human can be grabbed and held in place. We come into these physical bodies . . . whatever we are takes this shape that is so particular and distinct—eyes, nose, mouth—and then it gradually begins to disintegrate. Eventually it’s going to dissolve completely. It’s a huge problem for people; we can understand it, but it breaks our hearts. And so we’re constantly trying to pin something down or leave a trace that will last forever. “And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita . . .” What other immortality will anyone share?

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

I shall vomit,' said Hugh, 'if you persist in pestering me with all that odious rot.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vladimir Nabokov

As she began losing track of herself, she though 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.