I had some free time today to track these down. Hopefully it is of some help to you.

#1 is authentic
Vladimir Nabokov and His Butterflies: Portrait of a Lepidopterist | LIFE | TIME.com
from LIFE interview:
"Knowing you’ll have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations."
-Vladimir Nabokov

#2 a similar concept is expressed by Nabokov's contemporary Bertolt Brecht:
The rain, as it is, falls downwards
and, as it is, doesn't fall upwards.
- Bertolt Brecht

#3 is authentic
From the Pale Fire commentary to lines 939-940:
"If I correctly understand the sense of this succinct observation, our poet suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece."

#4 seems to be from a back-translation from Spanish
"Only the birds are able to throw off their shadow./ The shadow always stays behind on earth.// Our imagination flies:/ we are its shadow, on the earth."
qtd. in The Sea and the Honeycomb by Robert Bly, attributed to Vladimir Nabokov

#5 is authentic, though slightly altered
From Lolita, p. 127 (http://books.google.com/books?id=utvB0I_0SZsC&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&#v=onepage&q&f=false)
"The strain was beginning to tell. If a violin string can ache, the I was that string."

#6 seems to come from elsewhere:
"After getting feedback for a story idea from his artists, he isolated himself to map it out over 13 weeks of dailies and Sundays (1953 article), with the playwriting formula 'First act, get your leading character up a tree; second act, throw rocks at him; third act, get him down.'"
I don't know if it originates with Allen Saunders, but it seems to be a well-known writing formula already at the time

#7 seems to be authentic
It comes from a recollection of one of Nabokov's former students:
"a former student recalls him saying 'Caress the details ... the divine details.'"
Source: Ross Wetzsteon. "Nabokov as Teacher." Triquarterly 17 (1970): 245.

Joseph Schlegel
PhD Candidate
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
University of Toronto


On Monday, September 22, 2014 12:48 AM, Yigit Yavuz <yigit.yavuz@GMAIL.COM> wrote:

Dear members,

There are many Nabokov quotes on the internet many of which
actually does not belong to the writer. I combined several of them.
Would you be kind enough as to share your information on these: 
which of the phares below are genuine and which are not?

“Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.”
“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.” 
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.”
“Our imagination flies -- we are its shadow on the earth.” 
“If a violin string could ache, I would be that string.” 
“The writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.” 
“Caress the detail, the divine detail.” 

Yiğit Yavuz

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