Authors — O

Quotations by Joyce Carol Oates

Lolita is one of our finest American novels, a triumph of style and vision, an unforgettable work, Nabokov’s best (though not most characteristic) work, a wedding of Swiftian satirical vigor with the kind of minute, loving patience that belongs to a man infatuated with the visual mysteries of the world.

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Saturday Review of the Arts, “A Personal View of Nabokov”, January, 1973

A daydreamer is prepared for most things.

Boxing has become America’s tragic theater.

In love there are two things — bodies and words.

It is not her body that he wants but it is only through her body that he can take possession of another human being, so he must labor upon her body, he must enter her body, to make his claim.

It’s where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we are.

Old women snore violently. They are like bodies into which bizarre animals have crept at night; the animals are vicious, bawdy, noisy. How they snore! There is no shame to their snoring. Old women turn into old men.

Only when men are connected to large, universal goals are they really happy — and one result of their happiness is a rush of creative activity.

Our enemy is by tradition our savior, in preventing us from superficiality.

The television screen, so unlike the movie screen, sharply reduced human beings, revealed them as small, trivial, flat, in two banal dimensions, drained of color. Wasn’t there something reassuring about it! — that human beings were in fact merely images of a kind registered in one another’s eyes and brains, phenomena composed of microscopic flickering dots like atoms. They were atoms — nothing more. A quick switch of the dial and they disappeared and who could lament the loss?