Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the most influential thinkers in Russian culture during the formative years of Nabokov's life. There is direct evidence that Nabokov read the German philosopher, and their juxtaposition allows us to reconstruct some of the systematic dimensions of Nabokov's conceptual world. Moreover, Schopenhauer provides the language of Nabokov's philosophical thinking. While a philosopher usually operates by the means of abstract notions, a novelist's artistic conceptions are expressed most adequately through constellations of motifs. Schopenhauer was a rare philosopher who developed his reasoning by playing out a range of pivotal motifs. By way of introduction to the theme, the article shows the reverberation of four motifs, the cornerstones of Schopenhauer's philosophy (oak, camera obscura, world as a puppet show, and one alive among puppets), in Nabokov's writings. Reading Nabokov and Schopenhauer vis-à-vis each other allows us to reveal the existential problems at the root of their thinking.