Treasure Island

Quotations From VLADIMIR NABOKOV

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  • 1.
    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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Speak, Memory, ch. 1 (1966).

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  • 2.
    The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Pnin, ch. 2, sect. 1 (1957). Pnin's friend's theory.
  • 3.
    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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Hermann begins, Despair, ch. 1 (1966).

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  • 4.
    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 (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Speak Memory, ch. 10 (1973).
  • 5.
    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 (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Speak, Memory, ch. 1, sct. 1 (1955, revised 1966).

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  • 6.
    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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. "Fyodor Dostoevski," Lectures on Russian Literature (1981). "From the point of view of enduring art and individual genius."

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  • 7.
    I want a lump in his throat to obstruct the wisecrack.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Esquire (1969). On being asked what he would like to hear an astronaut say when landing on the moon for the first time.
  • 8.
    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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Selected Letters, April 22, 1957 (1989). Rejecting Auden's slogan as a means of defending the right for Lolita to be published.
  • 9.
    To begin with, let us take the following motto (not especially for this chapter, but generally): Literature is Love. Now we can continue.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Despair, ch. 7 (1966).

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  • 10.
    The quality of this novel is the way the plot is treated and not the plot itself.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Selected Letters, Mar. 23, 1935 (1989). Refusing a literary agent who had asked for a synopsis of Glory in order to consider marketing it.
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