Vladimir Nabokov quotes

  • Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Light #Fire #Soul

  • My principal failing as a writer is the lack of spontaneity; the nuisance of parallel thoughts, second thoughts, third thoughts; inability to express myself properly in any language unless I compose every damned sentence in my bath, in my mind, at my desk.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mind #Nuisance #Baths

  • And the rest is rust and stardust.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Rust #Stardust

  • I think my favorite fact about myself is that I have never been dismayed by a critic's bilge or bile, and have never once in my life asked or thanked a reviewer for a review.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Thinking #Facts #My Favorite

  • Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Reading #Book #Knowing

  • The writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Jobs #Character #Writing

  • I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Love #Memories #Thinking

  • Who can say what heartbreaks are caused in a dog by our discontinuing a romp?
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Dog

  • Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals. It is a mental torture I find debasing... I simply cannot get used to the nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Betrayal #Sleep #Humanity

  • She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Morning #School #Feet

  • We are most artistically caged.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

  • 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. The arms of consciousness reach out and grope, and the longer they are the better. Tentacles, not wings, are Apollo's natural members.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Wings #Trying #Arms

  • Time is rhythm: the insect rhythm of a warm humid night, brain ripple, breathing, the drum in my temple—these are our faithful timekeepers; and reason corrects the feverish beat.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Night #Breathing #Faithful

  • Dear Jesus, do something.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Jesus #Dear

  • Some people—and I am one of them—hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Hate #Feet #Track

  • Mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw the cigarettes away: that’s when you get shooting stars.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Stars #Angel #Mind

  • It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Love #Sight #Lasts

  • There is an old American saying 'He who lives in a glass house should not try to kill two birds with one stone.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Two #Glasses #Bird

  • The thought, when written down, becomes less oppressive, but some thoughts are like a cancerous tumor: you express is, you excise it, and it grows back worse than before.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Writing #Grows

  • The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Writing #Feelings #Pages

  • Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you love me thus!
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Dream #Country #Years

  • Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Inspirational #Fall #Rain

  • There are aphorisms that, like airplanes, stay up only while they are in motion.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Airplane #Aphorism

  • You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Style #Fancy #Murder

  • Perhaps, somewhere, some day, at a less miserable time, we may see each other again.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #May #Miserable

  • Loneliness as a situation can be corrected, but as a state of mind it is an incurable illness.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Loneliness #Mind #Illness

  • The contemplation of beauty, whether it be a uniquely tinted sunset, a radiant face, or a work of art, makes us glance back unwittingly at our personal past and juxtapose ourselves and our inner being with the utterly unattainable beauty revealed to us.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Art #Sunset #Past

  • Toska - noun /ˈtō-skÉ™/ - Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness. "No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Spiritual #Sadness #Sick

  • Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Thinking #Crowds #Life Is

  • Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Strong #Spring #Land

  • Words without experience are meaningless.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Meaningless

  • Some might think that the creativity, imagination, and flights of fancy that give my life meaning are insanity.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Inspirational #Creativity #Thinking

  • I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mind #Should

  • The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Sea #Wave #Breaking Promises

  • Solitude is the playfield of Satan.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Solitude #Satan

  • The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Evolution #Nonsense

  • Discussion in class, which means letting twenty young blockheads and two cocky neurotics discuss something that neither their teacher nor they know.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Teacher #Mean #Cocky

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

    #Character #Writing #Mind

  • Literature, real literature, must not be gulped down like some potion which may be good for the heart or good for the brain—the brain, that stomach of the soul. Literature must be taken and broken to bits, pulled apart, squashed—then its lovely reek will be smelt in the hollow of the palm, it will be munched and rolled upon the tongue with relish; then, and only then, its rare flavor will be appreciated at its true worth and the broken and crushed parts will again come together in your mind and disclose the beauty of a unity to which you have contributed something of your own blood.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Real #Taken #Heart

  • I am sufficiently proud of my knowing something to be modest about my not knowing all.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Humble #Knowing #Ego

  • Everything in the world is beautiful, but Man only recognizes beauty if he sees it either seldom or from afar. Listen, today we are gods! Our blue shadows are enormous! We move in a gigantic, joyful world!
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Beauty #Beautiful #Moving

  • If I correctly understand the sense of this succinct observation, our poet suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Life Is #Obscure #Poet

  • I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Forever #Fallen

  • We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night — every night, every night — the moment I feigned sleep.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Country #Dog #Book

  • All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Children #Opportunity #Soul

  • I shall continue to exist. I may assume other disguises, other forms, but I shall try to exist.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Trying #May #Assuming

  • He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Heart #Broke #My Heart

  • ...(hot, opalescent, thick tears that poets and lovers shed)...
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Tears #Hot #Lovers

  • I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don't really exist if you don't.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Needs #Imagine #Need You

  • I was the shadow of the waxwing slain/By the false azure in the windowpane...
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Shadow #Azure

  • 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.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Art #Humanity #Mind

  • Most of the dandelions had changed from suns into moons.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Moon #Sun #Dandelions

  • All colors made me happy: even gray. My eyes were such that literally they Took photographs.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Eye #Color #Photograph

  • Suddenly for no earthly reason I felt immensely sorry for him and longed to say something real, something with wings and a heart, but the birds I wanted settled on my shoulders and head only later when I was alone and not in need of words.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Sorry #Real #Heart

  • We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Adults #Fierceness

  • There is only one real number: one. And love, apparently, is the best exponent of this singularity.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Real #Numbers #And Love

  • All the seven deadly sins are peccadilloes but without three of them, Pride, Lust, and Sloth, poetry might never have been born.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Pride #Lust #Sloth

  • Genius is finding the invisible link between things.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Links #Genius #Invisible

  • Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Games #Lessons #Satire

  • Life is just one small piece of light between two eternal darknesses.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Two #Light #Darkness

  • A wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. It is there that occurs the telltale tingle...
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Wise #Book #Heart

  • Curiously enough, one cannot read a book; one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, and active and creative reader is a rereader.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Book #Creative #Enough

  • Genius is an African who dreams up snow.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Dream #Educational #Snow

  • Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mystery #Reason #Irrational

  • 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.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Life #Order #Imagination

  • Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Book #Writing #Essence

  • I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Children #Writing #Thinking

  • Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Hate #People #Ends

  • I confess, I do not believe in time.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Time #Believe

  • Caress the detail, the divine detail.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Religion #Details #Spirituality

  • A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Writing #Imagination #Poetic

  • We think not in words but in shadows of words.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Thinking #Shadow

  • Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Inspirational #Funny #Life

  • 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.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Girl #Book #Writing

  • A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Art #Important #Individual

  • Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Past #Smell

  • There are teachers and students with square minds who are by nature meant to undergo the fascination of catagories. For them, 'schools' and 'movements' are everything; by painting a group symbol on the brow of mediocrity, they condone their own incomprehension of true genius.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Teacher #School #Squares

  • I do not know if it has ever been noted before that one of the main characteristics of life is discreteness. Unless a film of flesh envelopes us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveler's helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment, death is communion. It may be wonderful to mix with the landscape, but to do so is the end of the tender ego.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Men #Space #Ego

  • For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mirrors #Phantoms #Population

  • Don't touch me; I'll die if you touch me.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Touch Me

  • I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Writing #Pencils

  • Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Butterfly #Passion #Men

  • The lost glove is happy.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Gloves #Lost

  • At eight, he had once told his mother that he wanted to paint air.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mother #Eight #Air

  • My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Music #Stupid #Simple

  • Our imagination flies -- we are its shadow on the earth.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Art #Imagination #Shadow

  • Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Fire #Light #Soul

  • I am sentimental,’ she said. ‘I could dissect a koala but not its baby. I like the words damozel, eglantine, elegant. I love when you kiss my elongated white hand.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Baby #Kissing #Hands

  • 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.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Death #Light #Rocks

  • We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #World #Meaningless

  • And yet I adore him. I think he's quite crazy, and with no place or occupation in life, and far from happy, and philosophically irresponsible – and there is absolutely nobody like him.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Crazy #Thinking #Occupation

  • A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Friday #Men #Blue

  • I mean, I have the feeling that something in my mind is poisoning everything else.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Mean #Feelings #Mind

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

    #Circles #Vicious #Spirals

  • Oh, my Lolita, I have only words to play with!
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Play

  • The square root of I is I.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Roots #Squares #Square Roots

  • I looked and looked at her, and I knew, as clearly as I know that I will die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth. She was only the dead-leaf echo of the nymphet from long ago - but I loved her, this Lolita, pale and polluted and big with another man's child. She could fade and wither - I didn't care. I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of her face.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Children #Men #Sight

  • You know, what's so dreadful about dying is that you are completely on your own.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Dying

  • And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov

    #Dying #Tears #Driving

  • Nymphets do not occur in polar regions.
    -- Vladimir Nabokov