Vladimir Nabokov (b. April 22): “I think like a genius, speak like a child.”

22 Apr

Vladimir Nabokov, born 22 April 1899 and died 2 July 1977, was a Russian-American novelist who was praised for his use of complex and original plots, and clever alliteration and wordplay. Nabokov’s Lolita is his most famous novel. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.

Quotes on writing:

  1. I don’t think in any language. I think in images.
  2. The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
  3. Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.
  4. Style and structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
  5. I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, I speak like a child.
  6. A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.
  7. Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
  8. Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.
  9. Lolita is famous, not me. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.
  10. The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
  11. Turning one’s novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
  12. The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
  13. My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music. My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting.
  14. There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.


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