Genius: Seeing Things Others Don’t See. Or Rather the Invisible Links Between Things

Quotation: “What do you call ‘genius’?”
“Well, seeing things others don’t see. Or rather the invisible links between things.”

Creator: Vladimir Nabokov, author of “Pale Fire”, “Lolita”, and “Speak, Memory”

Context: The lines excerpted above show two characters talking from the 1974 novel “Look at the Harlequins!” by Nabokov. 1 These two lines are often compressed to yield the following statement: Genius is finding the invisible link between things. However, assigning this compressed remark to Nabokov is inaccurate.

Related Article: Research Is to See What Everybody Else Has Seen and Think What Nobody Has Thought

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Brad Davies who asked about this quotation. Thanks also to Athel Cornish-Bowden who led QI to add the link to the “Related Article” when he pointed out the conceptual connection.


  1. 1990 (1974 Copyright), Look at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov, Quote Page 40, (Originally published in 1974 by McGraw-Hill International) Vintage international: A Division of Random House, New York. (Google Books Preview)