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Quotations From VLADIMIR NABOKOV


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  • Tell me, how many hands have palpated the pulp that has grown so generously around your hard, bitter little soul?
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 13 (1959).
  • I would like to spare the time and effort of hack reviewers—and, generally, persons who move their lips when reading.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. The Defense, foreword (1964).

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  • Little Marthe did it again today.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 2 (1959).

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  • "Where, where..." M'sieur Pierre mimicked him. "You know where. Off to do chop-chop."
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 19 (1959).
  • ... the compensation for a death sentence is knowledge of the exact hour when one is to die. A great luxury, but one that is well earned.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Invitation to a Beheading, ch. 1 (1959).

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  • The tiny madman in his padded cell.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born-U.S. novelist, poet. Humbert Humbert describing an embryo, in Lolita, pt. 1, ch. 11 (1955).
  • I think it is a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Strong Opinions, ch. 2 (1973).

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  • A novelist is, like all mortals, more fully at home on the surface of the present than in the ooze of the past.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Strong Opinions, ch. 3 (1973).

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  • 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 (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Humbert Humbert (narrator), in Lolita, pt. 1, ch. 1 (1955). Opening paragraph of novel.

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  • I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. Strong Opinions, foreword (1973). On writing.

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