Posted by: Devin | June 15, 2013

Invitation to a Beheading (Quotes)

I just finished Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading. Bizarre book, surreal stuff going on, open to interpretation. 

I can imagine people either being bored and confused by it, or really digging it. Wasn’t grrrrreat, but very good and strange.

I’d recommend Lolita first if you haven’t read it. The books could have been written by two entirely different people, though. I think if you read this first, you might think wrongly that Lolita is written in a similar style. It isn’t. At all. 

Giving nothing away, a guy is put in prison for a crime no one knows the definition of. No one will tell him when his execution will happen, his world is strange, and the reader doesn’t know what’s real. Yep.

Anyway. Quotes from it that I enjoyed!
“The moon cast dissimilar patterns of branches on the walls of similar houses.”

“I feel, tightly rolled up in my calves, so many miles that I could yet run in my lifetime.”

“That which does not have a name doesn’t exist.”

“The willows weep into three brooks, and the brooks, in three cascades, each with its own small rainbow, tumble into the lake, where a swan floats arm in arm with its reflection.”

“Everything was lustrous and shimmering; everything gravitated passionately toward a kind of perfection whose definition was absence of friction.”

“Today our unsophisticated cameras record in their own way our hastily assembled and painted world.”

“The torture comes when you say to yourself, ‘yesterday there would have been enough time’–and again you think, ‘if only I had begun yesterday…'”

“Irresponsibility in the end develops its own logic.”

“… The corpses of strangled words, like hanged men…”

“I have no desires, save the desire to express myself–in defiance of all the world’s muteness.”

“No one shall take me away from myself.”

“…a world which seems not a bad example of amateur craftsmanship.”

“What we call dreams is semi-reality, a 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, an evil drowsiness into which perpetrate in grotesque disguise the sounds and sights of the real world, flowing beyond the periphery of the mind.”

“The more I move about and search in the water where I grope on the sandy bottom for a glimmer I have glimpsed, the muddier the water grows, and the less likely it becomes that I shall grasp it.”

“I must think only of myself, of that force which urges me to express myself.”

“They were preparing me and hundreds of other children for secure nonexistence as adult dummies.”

“… signature line a seven-veil dance.”

“… the music of waters, the palette of sunsets…”

“…the only real, genuinely unquestionable thing here was only death itself, the inevitability of the author’s physical death.”

“… I believe in them so much that I infect them with truth.”

“How many hands have palpated the pulp that has grown so generously around your hard, bitter little soul?”

“I am mistaking you for someone else, after all, when I think that you will understand me, as an insane man mistakes his visiting kin for galaxies, logarithms, low-haunched hyenas–but there are also madmen–and they are invulnerable–who take themselves for madmen–and here the circle closes.”

“How delightful was that very ignorance that so depressed me.”

“… what is a recollection, if not the soul of an impression?”

“All my best words are deserters and do not answer the trumpet call, and the remainder are cripples.”

“… fishing for nonexistent fish in a waterless river…”


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