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Quotations From VLADIMIR NABOKOV


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  • Of all my Russian books, The Defense contains and diffuses the greatest "warmth"Mwhich may seem odd seeing how supremely abstract chess is supposed to be.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The Defense, foreword (1964).
  • A masterpiece of fiction is an original world and as such is not likely to fit the world of the reader.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lectures on Don Quixote, introduction (1983).

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  • To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The New York Times Book Review, interview (1972). on being asked "What kinds of power do you favor, and which do you oppose?"

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  • Let us wait for the page proof.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Novel: A Forum on Fiction, interview (1971). on being asked "what is the meaning of life?"
  • No author has created with less emphasis such pathetic characters as Chekhov has....
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. "Anton Chekhov," Lectures on Russian Literature (1981).
  • The locomotive, working rapidly with its elbows, hurried through a pine forest, then—with relief—among fields.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. "Cloud, Castle, Lake," Nabokov's Dozen (1958).

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  • That Dali is really Norman Rockwell's twin brother kidnapped by gypsies in babyhood.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Pnin, ch. 4, sect. 5 (1957).

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  • The smooth sizzle of a passing motorcar.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Despair, ch. 3 (1966).
  • Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Interview in Writers at Work, Fourth Series, ed. George Plimpton (1976).
  • Turning one's novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Strong Opinions, ch. 1 (1973).
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