Quotes from The Gift

Vladimir Nabokov ·  406 pages

Rating: (2.7K votes)


“Have you ever happened, reader, to feel that subtle sorrow of parting with an unloved abode? The heart does not break, as it does in parting with dear objects. The humid gaze does not wander around holding back a tear, as if it wished to carry away in it a trembling reflection of the abandoned spot; but in the best corner of our hearts we feel pity for the things which we did not bring to life with our breath, which we hardly noticed and are now leaving forever. This already dead iventory will not be resurrected in one's memory..”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“Thus it transpired that even Berlin could be mysterious. Within the linden's bloom the streetlight winks. A dark and honeyed hush envelops us. Across the curb one's passing shadow slinks: across a stump a sable ripples thus. The night sky melts to peach beyond that gate. There water gleams, there Venice vaguely shows. Look at that street--it runs to China straight, and yonder star above the Volga glows! Oh, swear to me to put in dreams your trust, and to believe in fantasy alone, and never let your soul in prison rust, nor stretch your arm and say: a wall of stone.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“It happens that over a long period you are promised a great success, in which from the very start you do not believe, so dissimilar is it from the rest of fate's offering, and if from time to time you do think of it, then you do so as it were to indulge your fantasy - but when, at last, on a very ordinary day with a west wind blowing, the news comes - simply, instantaneously and decisevely destroying any hope in it - then you are suddenly amazed to find that although you did not believe in it, you had been living with it all this time, not realizingt he constant, close presence of the dream, which had long since grown fat and independent, so that now you cannot get it out of your life without making a hole in that life.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“Then, after all the excitement, I shall experience a certain satiation of suffering--perhaps on the mountain pass to a kind of happiness which it is too early for me to know (I know only that when I reach it, it will be with pen in hand).”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“One night between sunset and river
On the old bridge we stood, you and I.
Will you ever forget it, I queried,
- That particular swift that went by?
And you answered, so earnestly: Never!

And what sobs made us suddenly shiver,
What a cry life emitted in flight!
Till we die, till tomorrow, for ever,
You and I on the old bridge one night.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift



“Боже мой, как я ненавижу все это - лавки, вещи за стеклом, тупое лицо товара и в особенности церемониал сделки, обмен приторными любезностями до и после! А эти опущенные ресницы скромной цены... благородство уступки... человеколюбие торговой рекламы... все это скверное подражание добру,- странно засасывающее добрых”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“Il genio è un africano che vede in sogno la neve.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“... всё гасло на гибельном словесном сквозняке, а я продолжал вращать эпитеты, налаживать рифму, не замечая разрыва, унижения, измены, - как человек, рассказывающий свой сон (как всякий сон, бесконечно свободный и сложный, но сворачивающийся как кровь, по пробуждении), незаметно для себя и для слушателей округляет, подчищает, одевает его по моде ходячего бытия, и если начинает так: "Мне снилось, что я сижу у себя в комнате", чудовищно опошляет приемы сновидения, подразумевая, что она была обставлена совершенно так, как его комната наяву.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“В полдень послышался клюнувший ключ. <...> Стало как-то неуютно. От утренней емкости времени не осталось ничего. Постель обратилась в пародию постели. В звуках готовившегося на кухне обеда был неприятный упрек, а перспектива умывания и бритья казалась столь же близкой и невозможной, как перспектива у мастеров раннего средневековья. Но и с этим тоже придется тебе когда-нибудь проститься.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“<...> но есть печали, которых смертью не лечат, оттого что они гораздо проще врачуются жизнью и ее меняющейся мечтой: вещественная пуля их не берет <...>”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift



“And Schyogolev launched on a discussion of politics. Like many unpaid windbags he thought that he could combine the reports he read in the papers by paid windbags into an orderly scheme, upon following which a logical and sober mind (in this case his mind) could with no effort explain and foresee a multitude of world events. The names of countries and of their leading representatives became in his hands something in the nature of labels for more or less full but essentially identical vessels, whose contents he poured this way and that. France was AFRAID of something or other and therefore would never allow it. England was AIMING at something. This statesman CRAVED a rapprochement, while that one wanted to increase his PRESTIGE. Someone was PLOTTING and someone was STRIVING for something. In short, the world Schyogolev created came out as some kind of collection of limited, humorless, faceless and abstract bullies, and the more brains, cunning and circumspection he found in their mutual activities the more stupid, vulgar and simple his world became.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“... увидел с той быстрой улыбкой, которой мы приветствуем радугу или розу”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“А вот продолговатая комната, где стоит терпеливый чемодан...”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


“[T]his is how it will remain until ... literary criticism discards its sociological, religious, philosophical and other textbooks, which only help mediocrity to admire itself. Only then will you be free to say what you please. [F]or God's sake stop that irrelevant chitchat.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, quote from The Gift


About the author

Vladimir Nabokov
Born place: in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Born date April 22, 1899
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