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  • For twenty-seven years I was witness to the spiritual deterioration of my own father, watching day after day how everything human in him left him and how gradually he turned into a grim monument to his own self ...

  • Moscow seethes and bubbles and gasps for air. It's always thirsting for something new, the newest events, the latest sensation. Everyone wants to be the first to know. It's the rhythm of life today.

  • ... Leningrad ... is a city with the gift of timelessness.

    • Jan Morris,
    • "The Winter Queen" (1957), Among the Cities ()
  • Keeping your coat on indoors in Russia, no matter how public the place, is far worse than keeping your hat on as the flag goes by. It is worse than going into a Catholic church in Spain with your upper arms bare. It is worse than telling a mother her baby bores you.

  • There are three things the prospective traveler to Russia does well to bear in mind. One: It is their country. Two: Most foreigners are profoundly relieved that this is so. Three: You don't have to go.

  • On the steppes of Siberia, fall does not arrive with a great show of flaming leaves; it comes in with a great howling wind. ... I thought that all the wolves of Siberia had gathered there at the mine to devour us.

  • Gathering news in Russia was like mining coal with a hat pin.

  • It seemed to me that I had come for the first time close to the soil of my native country, and could feel for the first time running in my veins Russia's vastness, her potency, her strength.

  • But Russians, in their very nature, it seems, pass quickly from the highest enthusiam to complete dejection and distrust. They yield to their moods quite sincerely and go the whole way, entirely forgetting all moods preceding and opposite. They do not see any contradiction in such behaviour; or, if they do, they readily find excuses for it.

  • [On Moscow:] In this city of wonder / this peaceful city / I shall be joyful, even / when I am dead.

    • Marina Tsvetaeva,
    • "Verses About Moscow," in Elaine Feinstein, ed., Selected Poems ()
  • Russians understand the rhythm of despair.