Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer-so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.— Tom Bissell
Vibrant Nabokov quotations
The Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov once said: In a Democracy, portraits of a nation's leader should never exceed the size of a postage stamp. That won't happen so quickly in Russia.
In the reading and writing life, delight, for me, is where the mystery lies.
Easy enough to figure out how scenes of violence or tragedy or titillation or grossness or even sentimentality can move us, but how the written word elicits delight - what Nabokov calls that shiver in the spine - is much harder to calculate and define.
What did Nabokov and Joyce have in common, apart from the poor teeth and the great prose? Exile, and decades of near pauperism.
Many authors write like amateur blacksmiths making their first horseshoe;
the clank of the anvil, the stench of the scorched leather apron, the sparks and the cursing are palpable, and this appeals to those who rank "sincerity" very high. Nabokov is more like a master swordsmith making a fine blade; nothing is amiss, nothing is too much, there is no fuss, and the finished product must be handled with great care, or it will cut you badly.
Vladimir Nabokov said the two great evils of the 20th century were Marx and Freud. He was absolutely correct.
Seem to be telling this, but really telling that.
Three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess. Nabokov was the other master of that. You could learn something from Nabokov on every page he ever wrote.
At Cornell University, my professor of European literature, Vladimir Nabokov, changed the way I read and the way I write. Words could paint pictures, I learned from him. Choosing the right word, and the right word order, he illustrated, could make an enormous difference in conveying an image or an idea.
One book that has meant much to my writing is W.
G. Sebald's The Emigrants. He uses a photograph of Vladimir Nabokov hunting butterflies in a similar way. The image or a reference to the image is traced throughout the four separate narratives. It sometimes seems to be the only link between the pieces, while the symbol Nabokov cuts remains wide open, a pencil sketch, a mystery to interpret outside his role as emigrant/observer.
Nabokov quote: "I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child."
Obviously, there is pleasure in the execution of any sort of art, and using language, as Nabokov felt also, is an exquisite process.
Of course, both [Oscar] Wilde & [Vladimir] Nabokov believe in many things, and these things emerge in their writing clearly - for Wilde, the folly of humankind and the (romantic) grandeur of the heroic, lone individual (not unlike Wilde himself); for Nabokov, the possibility of a kind of transcendence through a great, prevailing, superior sort of love (especially in Ada, the most self-congratulatory of novels.)
I believe novels can have secrets from their author, a notion I imagine would appall Nabokov.
Not all coincidence has to be loaded with meaning.
Sometimes, things simply recur because that's how it is in life, that's how the mood gets in. It's good to subtly overdo it too, as Nabokov does, as Sebald does. It's a good way to intensify that region of localized weather that we call a novel.
[Nabokov's] language is made visible .
. . like a veil or transparent curtain. You cannot help seeing the curtain as you peek into the intimate rooms behind.
Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington, even nonsurrealists like Kafka and Nabokov - writers like these, who create paths between the firmly grounded and flights of fantasy, are my personal North Star.
Angela Carter's fiction blew me away and really instilled a passion for writing, bolstered by Vladimir Nabokov. But in general, I can't point to any one thing. I just always loved books and writing.
If I had a staff of even one person, or could tolerate a small amphetamine habit, or entertain the possibility of weekly blood transfusions, or had been married to Vera Nabokov, or had a housespouse of even minimal abilities, a literary life would be easier to bring about. (In my mind I see all your male readers rolling their eyes. But your female ones - what is that? Are they nodding in agreement? Are their fists in the air?)
My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn't even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.
Vladimir Nabokov was a writer who cared nothing for music and whose favorite sport was the pursuit, capture, and murder of butterflies. This explains many things; for example, the fact that Nabokov's novels, for all their elegance and wit, resemble nothing so much as butterflies pinned to a board: pretty but dead; symmetrical but stiff.
Style: There is something in too much verbal felicity (as in Joyce or Nabokov or Borges) that can betray the writer into technique for the sake of technique.
I'm very attracted to exile literature - particularly Nabokov - exactly because the idea of being away from home for any serious length of time is so inconceivable to me.