Quotations From VLADIMIR NABOKOV


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  • 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 (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lectures on Russian Literature, ch. I (1981).

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  • Thus, in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of cliches.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lolita, afterword (1955).
  • A pale self-portrait looked out of the mirror with the serious eyes of all self-portraits.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The Gift, ch. 3 (1963).

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  • Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lolita, afterword (1955).
  • Mr. Goodman's large soft pinkish face was, and is, remarkably like a cow's udder.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, ch. 6 (1941). Of the rival biographer of Sebastian Knight.
  • At fifteen I visualized myself as a world-famous author of seventy with a mane of wavy white hair. Today I am practically bald.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The New York Times, interview (1971). On being asked how far his youthful expectations had been fulfilled.

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  • I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Life, interview (1964).
  • 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?
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lolita, pt. I, ch. 25.

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  • Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Paris Review, interview (Oct. 1967). On being asked whether there were significant disadvantages to his present fame.
  • A special feature of the structure of our book is the monstrous but perfectly organic part that eavesdropping plays in it.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. A Hero of Our Time, foreword (1958).
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