He was afraid of touching his own wrist. He never attempted to sleep on his left side, even in those dismal hours of the night when the insomniac longs for a third side after trying the two he has.
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.
For some reason, I kept seeing it—it trembled and silkily glowed on my damp retina—a radiant child of twelve, sitting on a threshold, pinging pebbles at an empty can.
One last word,' I said in my horrible careful English, 'are you quite, quite sure that—well, not tomorrow, of course, and not after tomorrow, but—well—some day, any day, you will not come to live with me? I will create a brand new God and thank him with piercing cries, if you give me that microscopic hope''No,' she said smiling, 'no.''It would have made all the difference,' said Humbert Humbert.Then I pulled out my automatic-I mean, this is the kind of fool thing a reader might suppose I did. It never even occurred to me to do it.
I fear no hell, just as I expect no heaven. Nabokov summed up a nonbeliever’s view of the cosmos, and our place in it, thus: “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.” The 19th-century Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle put it slightly differently: “One life. A little gleam of Time between two Eternities.” Though I have many memories to cherish, I value the present, my time on earth, those around me now. I miss those who have departed, and recognize, painful as it is, that I will never be reunited with them. There is the here and now – no more. But certainly no less. Being an adult means, as Orwell put it, having the “power of facing unpleasant facts.” True adulthood begins with doing just that, with renouncing comforting fables. There is something liberating in recognizing ourselves as mammals with some fourscore years (if we’re lucky) to make the most of on this earth.There is also something intrinsically courageous about being an atheist. Atheists confront death without mythology or sugarcoating. That takes courage.
The Russian-born novelist's writing habits were famously peculiar. Beginning in 1950, he composed first drafts in pencil on ruled index cards, which he stored in long file boxes. Since Nabokov claimed, he pictured an entire novel in complete form before he began writing it, this method allowed him to compose passages out of sequence, in whatever order he pleased...
My darling, what a cat they have! Something perfectly stupendous. Siamese, in colour dark beige, or taupe, with chocolate paws and the tail the same. Moreover, his tail is comparatively short, so his croup has something of a little dog, or rather, a kangaroo, and that’s its colour, too. And that special silkiness of short fur, and some very tender white tints on its folds, and wonderful clear-blue eyes, turning transparently green towards evening, and a pensive tenderness of its walk, a sort of heavenly circumspection of movement. An amazing, sacred animal, and so quiet – it’s unclear what he is looking at with those eyes filled to the brim with sapphire water.