Quotations From VLADIMIR NABOKOV


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  • 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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Look at the Harlequins! pt. VI, ch. 1 (1974).
  • In accordance with the law the death sentence was announced to Cincinnatus C. in a whisper. All rose, exchanging smiles.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 1 (1959).

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  • The spiral is a spiritualized circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Speak, Memory, ch. 14 (1966).
  • The best part of a writer's biography is not the record of his adventures but the story of his style.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Vogue, interview (1969).
  • Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, interview (Spring 1967).
  • A few words more about Mrs. Humbert while the going is good (a bad accident is to happen quite soon).
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Lolita, pt. I, ch. 19 (1958).
  • 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!
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Van, in Ada, pt. IV, ch. 1 (1969). On the texture of time.

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  • 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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. "Mademoiselle O," Nabokov's Dozen (1958).

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  • "... 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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 1 (1959).

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  • 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.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Pale Fire (1962). The beginning of the poem.

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