Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Biography

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (22 April 1899c – 2 July 1977) was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov's first nine novels were in Russian. He then rose to international prominence as a writer of English prose. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is his most famous novel, and often considered his finest work in English. It exhibits the love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail that characterised all his works. The novel was ranked at No. 4 in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels. Pale Fire (1962) was ranked at No. 53 on the same list. His memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed No. 8 on the Modern Library nonfiction list. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it.

Vladimir Nabokov Comments

Vladimir Nabokov Quotes

I felt proud of myself. I had stolen the honey of a spasm without impairing the morals of a minor.

To think that between a Hamburger and a Humburger, she would—invariably, with icy precision—plump for the former.

If, from the very first, the action of the play is absurd, it is because this is the way mad Waltz—before the play starts—imagines it is going to be....

You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.

I looked up from the letter and was about to—There was no Lo to behold.

A few words more about Mrs. Humbert while the going is good (a bad accident is to happen quite soon).

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 best part of a writer's biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style.

Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.

I am not concerned with so-called "sex" at all. Anybody can imagine those elements of animality. A greater endeavor lures me on: to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets.

Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.

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.

I'm really sorry that I cheated so much, but I guess that's just the way things are.

I haven't missed you. In fact, I've been revoltingly unfaithful to you.

Coincidence is a pimp and a cardsharper in ordinary fiction but a marvelous artist in the patterns of facts recollected by a non-ordinary memorist.

I have often noticed that after I had bestowed on the characters of my novels some treasured item of my past, it would pine away in the artificial world where I had so abruptly placed it.

A special feature of the structure of our book is the monstrous but perfectly organic part that eavesdropping plays in it.

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain By the false azure in the windowpane; I was the smudge of ashen fluff—and I Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.

Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.

Darling, you know, I have a most ambitious fantasy.

No, I'm Spartacus. You come to free the slaves or something?

The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.

Dear Felix, I have found some work for you. First of all we must have an eye-to-eye monologue and get things settled.

The novel is not "a crazy quilt of bits"; it is a logical sequence of psychological events: the movements of stars may seem crazy to the simpleton, but wise men know the comets come back.

All my stories are webs of style and none seems at first blush to contain much kinetic matter.... For me "style" is matter.

To begin with, let us take the following motto (not especially for this chapter, but generally): Literature is Love. Now we can continue.

The quality of this novel is the way the plot is treated and not the plot itself.

I want a lump in his throat to obstruct the wisecrack.

Moreover, the slogan "highbrows and lowbrows, unite!", which he had spouted already, is all wrong since true highbrows are highbrows because they do not unite.

Dostoevski is not a great writer, but a rather mediocre one—with flashes of excellent humor, but, alas, with wastelands of literary platitudes in between.

Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature, should be limited. In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much.

To a joke, then, I owe my first gleam of consciousness—which again has recapitulatory implications, since the first creatures on earth to become aware of time were also the first creatures to smile.

The more gifted and talkative one's characters are, the greater the chances of their resembling the author in tone or tint of mind.

If I were not perfectly sure of my power to write and of my marvelous ability to express ideas with the utmost grace and vividness.... So, more or less, I had thought of beginning my tale.

The spiral is a spiritualized circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free.

Between here and that old car outside there are twenty-five paces. Make them. Now.

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.

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.

In accordance with the law the death sentence was announced to Cincinnatus C. in a whisper. All rose, exchanging smiles.

"... and now, pour la digestion, allow me to offer you a cigarette. Have no fear, at most this is only the one before last," he added wittily.

A pale self-portrait looked out of the mirror with the serious eyes of all self-portraits.

There are aphorisms that, like airplanes, stay up only while they are in motion.

[The Gift] is the last novel I wrote, or shall ever write, in Russian.

The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.

At fifteen I visualized myself as a world-famous author of seventy with a mane of wavy white hair. Today I am practically bald.

I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.

Mr. Goodman's large soft pinkish face was, and is, remarkably like a cow's udder.

Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.

Thus, in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of cliches.

Oh Lolita, you are my girl, as Vee was Poe's and Bea Dante's, and what little girl would not like to whirl in a circular skirt and scanties?

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Vladimir Nabokov Popularity

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