In probing my childhood (which is the next best to probing one’s eternity) I see the awakening of consciousness as a series of spaced flashes, with the interval between them gradually diminishing until bright blocks of perception are formed, affording memory a slippery hold.

Vladimir Nabokov
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited

Blank Pages

January 24, 2019

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible.

Vladimir Nabokov
The Art of Literature and Common Sense

The Encounter

November 6, 2018

enchanted by this strange proximity

Longing, and mystery, and delight…
as if from the swaying blackness
of some slow-motion masquerade
onto the dim bridge you came.

And night flowed, and silent there floated
into its satin streams
that black mask’s wolf-like profile
and those tender lips of yours.

And under the chestnuts, along the canal
you passed, luring me askance.
What did my heart discern in you,
how did you move me so?

In your momentary tenderness,
or in the changing contour of your shoulders,
did I experience a dim sketch
of other — irrevocable — encounters?

Perhaps romantic pity
led you to understand
what had set trembling that arrow
now piercing through my verse?

I know nothing. Strangely
the verse vibrates, and in it, an arrow…
Perhaps you, still nameless, were
the genuine, the awaited one?

But sorrow not yet quite cried out
perturbed our starry hour.
Into the night returned the double fissure
of your eyes, eyes not yet illumed.

For long? For ever? Far off
I wander, and strain to hear
the movement of the stars above our encounter
and what if you are to be my fate…

Longing, and mystery, and delight,
and like a distant supplication…
My heart must travel on.
But if you are to be my fate…

Vladimir Nabokov

snow-and-moon

Literature is invention. Fiction is fiction. To call a story a true story is an insult to both art and truth. Every great writer is a great deceiver, but so is that arch-cheat Nature. Nature always deceives. From the simple deception of propagation to the prodigiously sophisticated illusion of protective colours in butterflies or birds, there is in Nature a marvellous system of spells and wiles. The writer of fiction only follows Nature’s lead.

Vladimir Nabokov
10 Criteria for a good reader
Lectures on Literature

turn my Lolita inside out…

September 26, 2016

a-lolita

My only grudge against nature was that I could not turn my Lolita inside out and apply voracious lips to her young matrix, her unknown heart, her nacreous liver, the sea-grapes of her lungs, her comely twin kidneys.

Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita

ThereseDreamingBalthus1933

I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her – after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred – I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever – for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation) – and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again–and ‘oh, no,’ Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure–all would be shattered.”

Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita

Moan in her warm hair…

August 1, 2015

old&young

I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her –after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred–I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever–for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)–and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again–and ‘oh, no,’ Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure–all would be shattered.

Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita

In my dreams….

March 4, 2015

storminajar

…in my dreams the world would come alive, becoming so captivatingly majestic, free and ethereal, that afterwards it would be oppressive to breathe the dust of this painted life. But then I have long since grown accustomed to the thought that what we call dreams is semi-reality, the promise of reality, a foreglimpse and a whiff of it; that is, they contain, in a very vague, diluted state, more genuine reality than our vaunted waking life which, in its turn, is semi-sleep

Vladimir Nabokov
Invitation to a Beheading

I looked, and looked…

July 30, 2014

girlwithballons

“I looked and looked at her, and I knew, as clearly as I know that I will die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth.”

(Vladimir Nabokov)
Lolita