Top Nabokov Quotes

Browse top 17 famous quotes and sayings about Nabokov by most favorite authors.

Favorite Nabokov Quotes

1. "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand), the first single from Eat Me, Drink Me, features a video filmed by Titanic director James Cameron. In it, Manson croons to Wood, who – with bobbed hair, gloves and a demure frock – blankly masturbates in an audience of writhing lesbians, Manson's image reflected in her heart-shaped glasses. I wanted to like the song, but found Manson's threadbare voice and overdubbed music annoying, and the chorus - 'Don't break my heart/and I won't break your heart-shaped glasses' – suggested a pugilistic retribution ('Dump me, and I'll punch your lights out!') more in keeping with Norman Mailer than Nabokov."
Author: Antonella Gambotto Burke
2. "Poshlust, Nabokov explains, "is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive."
Author: Azar Nafisi
3. "In another Nabokov novel, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Sebastian's brother discovers two seemingly incongruous pictures in his dead brother's library: a pretty, curly-haired child playing with a dog and a Chinese man in the act of being beheaded. The two pictures remind us of the close relation between banality and brutality."
Author: Azar Nafisi
4. "The biggest crime in Nabokov's 'Lolita' is imposing your own dream upon someone else's reality. Humbert Humbert is blind. He doesn't see Lolita's reality. He doesn't see that Lolita should leave. He only sees Lolita as an extension of his own obsession. This is what a totalitarian state does."
Author: Azar Nafisi
5. "Seem to be telling this, but really telling that. Three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess. Nabokov was the other master of that. You could learn something from Nabokov on every page he ever wrote."
Author: Donald E. Westlake
6. "T. S. Eliot and Jean-Paul Sartre, dissimilar enough as thinkers, both tend to undervalue prose and to deny it any imaginative function. Poetry is the creation of linguistic quasi-things; prose is for explanation and exposition, it is essentially didactic, documentary, informative. Prose is ideally transparent; it is only faute de mieux written in words. The influential modern stylist is Hemingway. It would be almost inconceivable now to write like Landor. Most modern English novels indeed are not written. One feels they could slip into some other medium without much loss. It takes a foreigner like Nabokov or an Irishman like Beckett to animate prose language into an imaginative stuff in its own right."
Author: Iris Murdoch
7. "Several passages induced the shiver of aesthetic bliss in my spine that Nabokov famously described as the indicator of good and true writing. The whole thing is by turns hilarious and hilariously sad, artfully pin-holed with melancholy (my favorite drink)… Empty the Sun is an impressive achievement, as well as an excellent and I believe as yet unused name for a rock band."
Author: James Greer
8. "The great chandeliers hang silent. The tables in the vast dining room overlooking the lake are spread with white cloth and silver as if for dinners before the war. At a little after 4, into the green room with the slow walk of aged people, the Nabokovs come. He wears a navy blue cardigan, a blue-checked shirt, gray slacks and a tie. His shoes have crepe soles. He is balding, with a fringe of gray hair. His hazel-green eyes are watering, oysterous, as he says. He is 75, born on the same day as Shakespeare, April 23. He is at the end of a great career, a career half-carved out of a language not his own."
Author: James Salter
9. "Reading Aloud to My Father I chose the book haphazardfrom the shelf, but with Nabokov's firstsentence I knew it wasn't the thingto read to a dying man:The cradle rocks above an abyss, it began,and common sense tells us that our existenceis but a brief crack of lightbetween two eternities of darkness.The words disturbed both of us immediately,and I stopped. With music it was the same --Chopin's Piano Concerto — he asked meto turn it off. He ceased eating, and dranklittle, while the tumors briskly appropriatedwhat was left of him.But to return to the cradle rocking. I thinkNabokov had it wrong. This is the abyss.That's why babies howl at birth,and why the dying so often reachfor something only they can apprehend.At the end they don't want their handsto be under the covers, and if you should putyour hand on theirs in a tentative gestureof solidarity, they'll pull the hand free;and you must honor that desire,and let them pull it free."
Author: Jane Kenyon
10. "My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn't even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him."
Author: Jenny Offill
11. "Do you know what Nabokov said about adultery in his lecture on Madame Bovary? He said it was 'a most conventional way to rise above the conventional'."
Author: Julian Barnes
12. "Nabokov changed my life," Max said. "I was going to be a writer, and then I read Lolita and I decided to go to law school instead. It looked easier."
Author: Leslie Daniels
13. "Nabokov's adventures in language and style and naked braininess are really unparalleled."
Author: Lorrie Moore
14. "What did Nabokov and Joyce have in common, apart from the poor teeth and the great prose? Exile, and decades of near pauperism. A compulsive tendency to overtip. An uxoriousness that their wives deservedly inspired. More than that, they both lived their lives 'beautifully'--not in any Jamesian sense (where, besides, ferocious solvency would have been a prerequisite), but in the droll fortitude of their perseverance. They got the work done, with style."
Author: Martin Amis
15. "It's possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things-- a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring-- with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine-- the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me."
Author: Raymond Carver
16. "I refused to have bookshelves, horrified that I'd feel compelled to organise the books in some regimented system - Dewey or alphabetical or worse - and so the books lived in stacks, some as tall as me, in the most subjective order I could invent.Thus Nabokov lived between Gogol and Hemingway, cradled between the Old World and the New; Willa Cather and Theodore Dreiser and Thomas Hardy were stacked together not for their chronological proximity but because they all reminded me in some way of dryness (though in Dreiser's case I think I was focused mainly on his name): George Eliot and Jane Austen shared a stack with Thackeray because all I had of his was Vanity Fair, and I thought that Becky Sharp would do best in the presence of ladies (and deep down I worried that if I put her next to David Copperfield, she might seduce him)."
Author: Rebecca Makkai
17. "Some writers are the kind of solo violinists who need complete silence to tune their instruments. Others want to hear every member of the orchestra—they'll take a cue from a clarinet, from an oboe, even. I am one of those. My writing desk is covered in open novels. I read lines to swim in a certain sensibility, to strike a particular note, to encourage rigour when I'm too sentimental, to bring verbal ease when I'm syntactically uptight. I think of reading like a balanced diet; if your sentences are baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka, as roughage. If your aesthetic has become so refined it is stopping you from placing a single black mark on white paper, stop worrying so much about what Nabokov would say; pick up Dostoyevsky, patron saint of substance over style."
Author: Zadie Smith

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Kids from small families grow about an inch taller than those from large families. This is true regardless of income and social class, because a body can't grow well while fighting off nine siblings' cold viruses."
Author: Arianne Cohen

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