Lolita - by Vladimir Nabokov

Both art and nature are to Nabokov "a game of intricate enchantment and deception," and the process of reading and rereading his novels is a game of perception. This is how Nabokov seems to envision the game of life and the effect of his novels: each time a "scrambled picture" has been discerned "the finder cannot unsee" it; consciousness has been expanded or created.

"Satire is a lesson, parody is a game," says Nabokov.

It occurred to me that regular hours, home-cooked meals, all the conventions of marriage, the prophylactic routine of its bedroom activities and, who knows, the eventual flowering of certain moral values, of certain spiritual substitutes, might help me, if not to purge myself of my degrading and dangerous desires, at least to keep them under pacific control.

Oh, let me be mawkish for the nonce! I am so tired of being cynical.

There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.

On the following day I was still a vibration rather than a solid.

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. 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. Thus X will never compose the immortal music that would clash with the second-rate symphonies he has accustomed us to. Y will never commit murder. Under no circumstances can Z ever betray us. We have it all arranged in our minds, and the less often we see a particular person the more satisfying it is to check how obediently he conforms to our notion of him every time we hear of him. Any deviation in the fates we have ordained would strike us as not only anomalous but unethical. We would prefer not to have known at all our neighbor, the retired hot-dog stand operator, if it turns out he has just produced the greatest book of poetry his age has seen.