“What he went through while he was kissing your brother’s hand and begging him to let go of his papa, only God and I know, no one else. And that’s the way our children – not your children, but the children of the likes of me, honorable but despised men – learn the truth about life by the time they’re nine. Rich people may never find out about these things as long as they live, but my Ilyusha knew the truth the second he kissed that hand on the square. And at the very moment it was revealed to him, the truth maimed him in such a way that he’ll never recover…”

Fyodor Dostoevksy, The Brothers Karamazov


Jack of Diamonds

“Sergei Yablonovsky said that none of it was art whereupon Lentulov squeezed out some ochre paint on to a piece of cardboard and hung it in the exhibition he had criticized, with the caption ‘Sergei Yablonovsky’s Brain.'”

Orlando Figes, Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia


“At the meeting on Nantucket, Esvelt assured residents that he and his team fully understood the implications of manipulating the basic elements of life.”

Michael Specter, The New Yorker, “Rewriting the Code of Life.”

Leaving Pogorelka

“The last blows of fate had not only humbled her but had also thrown a light upon certain aspects of her mental horizon on which her mind had apparently never dwelt before. She understood now that human beings had certain strivings which may lie dormant for a long time but which, once awakened, irresistibly drew one towards the blessed ray of light that one’s eyes have long been watching for amidst the hopeless darkness of the present. Having once recognized the legitimacy of such a striving she could no longer oppose it. True, she did try to dissuade the girls, but she did it feebly, halfheartedly; she was anxious about their future, especially as she herself had no connections in so-called society, but at the same time she felt it was right and inevitable that they should part. What would become of them? The question haunted her every moment; but then neither question nor even more alarming ones can hold back those who long for freedom. And the girls could talk of nothing but escaping from Pogorelka. And so after hesitating a little and putting off the day of departure out of consideration for their grandmother, they went away.”

Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, The Golovlyovs