Vladimir Nabokov

1899 - 1977

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on writing, advice, languages, life, and living

Advice to A Young Writer

1. If possible, be Russian. And live in another country. Play chess. Be an active trader between languages. Carry precious metals from one to the other. Remind us of Stravinsky. Know the names of plants and flying creatures. Hunt gauzy wings with snares of gauze. Make science pay tribute. Have a butterfly known by your name.

2. Do not be awed by giant predecessors. Be ill-tempered with their renown. Point out flaws. Frighten interviewers from Time. Appear in Playboy. Sell to the movies.

3. Use unlikely materials. Who would choose Pnin as hero, but how did we live before Pnin?

4. Delight in perversity. Put a noun into the dictionary. Now we recognize the Lolita at every corner, see her sucking sweetened milk through straws at every soda fountain, dream her through all our fantasies.

5. Burn pedants in pale fire. Accept no fashions. Be your own fashion. Do not rely on earlier triumphs. Be new at each appearance.

6. Age indomitably, in the European manner. Do not finish your labours young. Be a planet, not a meteor. Honor the working day. Sit at your desk.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Contributed by: Siona

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov

Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Contributed by: Lizzy

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on consciousness, knowledge, and truth

It is certainly not then--not in dreams-- but when one is wide awake, at moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits, from the mast, from the past and its castle tower. And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Source: Unknown

Contributed by: James

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on knowledge and expression

I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would not have been expressed, had I not known more.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Source: Unknown

Contributed by: James

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on lolita, friends, and vladimir nabokov

I have often noticed that we are inclined to endow our friends with the stability of type that literary characters acquire in the reader's mind. No matter how many times we reopen "King Lear", never shall we find the good king banging his tankard in high revelry, all woes forgotten, at a jolly reunion with all three daughters and their lapdogs. Never will Emma rally, revived by the sympathetic salts in Flaubert's father's timely tear. Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds, and, similarly, we expect our friends to follow this or that logical and conventional pattern we have fixed for them. Thus X will never compose the immortal music that would clash with the second-rate symphonies he has accustomed us to. Y will never commit murder. Under no circumstances will Z ever betray us. We have it all arranged in our minds, and the less often we see a particular person the more satisfying it is to check how obediently he conforms to our notion of him every time we hear of him. Any deviation in the fates we have ordained would strike us as not only anomalous but unethical. We would prefer not to have known our neighbor, the retired hot-dog stand operator, if it turns out he has just produced the greatest book of poetry his age has seen.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Source: Lolita (Vintage International), Pages: 265

Contributed by: Marla

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov

Curiosity is insubordination in it's purest form

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Contributed by: Farland

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on dreams and genius

Genius is an African who dreams up snow.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Vladimir Nabokov on brevity, common sense, darkness, and existence

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

Source: Speak, Memory, 1947, ch 1.

Contributed by: Zaady

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