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Vladimir Nabokov


1899 – 2 July 1977) was a Russian-American writer.
Vladimir Nabokov
The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase.
Nabokov quotes
To return to my lecturing days: I automatically gave low marks when a student used the dreadful phrase "sincere and simple" — "Flaubert writes with a style which is always simple and sincere" — under the impression that this was the greatest compliment payable to prose or poetry. When I struck the phrase out, which I did with such rage that it ripped the paper, the student complained that this was what teachers had always taught him: "Art is simple, art is sincere." Someday I must trace this vulgar absurdity to its source. A schoolmarm in Ohio? A progressive ass in New York? Because, of course, art at its greatest is fantastically deceitful and complex.
Nabokov
He can write, but he's got nothing to say.




Nabokov Vladimir quotes
I think he’s crude, I think he’s medieval, and I don’t want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me. I don’t have the dreams that he discusses in his books. I don’t see umbrellas in my dreams. Or balloons.
Nabokov Vladimir
Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss
Poems that take a thousand years to die
But ape the immortality of this
Red label on a little butterfly.
Vladimir Nabokov quotes
Gentlemen, even if one allows that he is an important writer, are we next to invite an elephant to be Professor of Zoology?
Vladimir Nabokov
Her intense and pure religiousness took the form of her having equal faith in the existence of another world and in the impossibility of comprehending it in terms of earthly life. All one could do was to glimpse, amid the haze and the chimeras, something real ahead, just as persons endowed with an unusual persistence of diurnal cerebration are able to perceive in their deepest sleep, somewhere beyond the throes of an entangled and inept nightmare, the ordered reality of the waking hour.
Nabokov Vladimir quotes
As far as I can recall, the initial shiver of inspiration was somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature's cage.
Nabokov
Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.
Nabokov Vladimir
The political barbarism of the century made him an exile, a wanderer, a Hotelmensch, not only from his Russian homeland but from the matchless Russian tongue in which his genius would have found its unforced idiom... But I have no hesitation in arguing that this poly-linguistic matrix is the determining fact of Nabokov's life and art. But whereas so many other language exiles clung desperately to the artifice of their native tongue or fell silent, Nabokov moved into successive languages like a travelling potentate...
Vladimir Nabokov
Following Nabokov's earlier excellent, offbeat novels (including Pnin, TIME, March 18, 1957), Lolita should give his name its true dimensions and expose a wider U.S. public to his special gift — which is to deal with life as if it were a thing created by a mad poet on a spring night.




Vladimir Nabokov quotes
I hastened to quench a thirst that had been burning a hole in the mixed metaphor of my life ever since I had fondled a quite different Dolly thirteen years earlier.
Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is a fine book, a distinguished book — all right then — a great book.
Nabokov quotes
I don't think in any language. I think in images. I don't believe that people think in languages. They don't move their lips when they think. It is only a certain type of illiterate person who moves his lips as he reads or ruminates. No, I think in images, and now and then a Russian phrase or an English phrase will form with the foam of the brainwave, but that’s about all.
Nabokov Vladimir
To be quite candid — and what I am going to say now is something I have never said before, and I hope that it provokes a salutary chill — I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would not have been expressed, had I not known more.
Nabokov Vladimir quotes
Some say the Great American Novel is Huckleberry Finn, some say it's The Jungle, some say it's The Great Gatsby. But my vote goes to the tale with the maximum lust, hypocrisy and obsession — the view of America that could only have come from an outsider — Nabokov's Lolita. ... Those who bought "Lolita" looking for mere prurient kicks must surely have been disappointed. Lolita is dark and twisted all right, but it's also a corruptly beautiful love story of two tragically alike, id-driven souls... What makes Lolita a work of greatness isn't that its title has become ingrained in the vernacular, isn't that was a generation ahead of America in fetishizing young girls. No, it is the writing, the way Nabokov bounces around in words like the English language is a toy trunk, the sly wit, the way it's devastating and cynical and heartbreaking all at once. Poor old Dolly Haze might not have grown up very well, but Lolita forever remains a thing of timeless beauty.
Vladimir Nabokov
Oh, my Lolita, I have only words to play with!
Vladimir Nabokov quotes
Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts.
Vladimir Nabokov
To know that no one before you has seen an organ you are examining, to trace relationships that have occurred to no one before, to immerse yourself in the wondrous crystalline world of the microscope, where silence reigns, circumscribed by its own horizon, a blindingly white arena — all this is so enticing that I cannot describe it.
Nabokov Vladimir
Genius still means to me, in my Russian fastidiousness and pride of phrase, a unique dazzling gift. The gift of James Joyce, and not the talent of Henry James.


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