A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by

Amor Towles

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Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) Character Analysis

The Count’s best friend, whom he met at school and who keeps him company at the hotel. Even though they come from different class backgrounds (Mishka is not noble), they became fast friends when the Count rushed to Mishka’s aid in a schoolyard fight. Mishka is a poet, and at first he appears to be excited by the revolution and the Bolsheviks’ ascension to power because of what it might mean for the progression of poetry. However, over the course of the novel, he sees the negative effects that censorship has on the arts. When Mishka is asked to censor a volume of Chekhov’s letters he is editing, he has an outburst and rails against the Party. He is then arrested and sent to Siberia to work in a labor camp for a few years, but he returns to Moscow in secret in order to complete a new project. Gradually the oppression of the new society takes its toll on Mishka, and towards the end of the novel his lover, Katerina, informs the Count that Mishka has died. The Count also reveals after his death that Mishka had in fact written the poem for which the Count was imprisoned. They had agreed to publish it under the Count’s name because they knew that the Count’s punishment would be less harsh than Mishka’s, demonstrating the deep love and sacrifice that the Count maintained for his friend. Ultimately, Mishka is an example of a character who is unable to adapt to the changes in society around him, unlike the Count.

Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) Quotes in A Gentleman in Moscow

The A Gentleman in Moscow quotes below are all either spoken by Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) or refer to Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of A Gentleman in Moscow published in 2016.
Book 3, Antics, Antitheses, an Accident Quotes

Our churches, known the world over for their idiosyncratic beauty, for their brightly colored spires and improbable cupolas, we raze one by one. We topple the statues of old heroes and strip their names from the streets, as if they had been figments of our imagination. Our poets we either silence, or wait patiently for them to silence themselves.

Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

“Who would have imagined,” he said, “when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.”

Page Number: 292
Explanation and Analysis:

In 1916, Russia was a barbarian state. It was the most illiterate nation in Europe, with the majority of its population living in modified serfdom: tilling the fields with wooden plows, beating their wives by candlelight, collapsing on their benches drunk with vodka, and then waking at dawn to humble themselves before their icons. That is, living exactly as their forefathers had lived five hundred years before. Is it not possible that our reverence for all the statues and cathedrals and ancient institutions was precisely what was holding us back?

Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) Character Timeline in A Gentleman in Moscow

The timeline below shows where the character Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka) appears in A Gentleman in Moscow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Archaeologies
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...away by Arkady. Arkady explains that a gentleman (later revealed to be the Count’s friend Mishka) had knocked on the suite door of a Bolshevik Secretary. Mishka had been surprised to... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...to the lobby and points out the gentleman. The Count immediately recognizes Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich (Mishka), who is like a brother to him even though they had very different upbringings. While... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count and Mishka (the Count’s nickname for Mikhail) retreat to the Count’s new room. Mishka notes that the... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Mishka thinks back to the summers when he would go to visit the Count’s family estate.... (full context)
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Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Mishka picks up a photo on the Count’s bookcase, which contains a picture of the Grand... (full context)
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Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Later in the evening, Mishka tells the Count about the upcoming congress of RAPP, the Russian Association of Proletarian writers.... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count is glad to hear Mishka speak so passionately, because he always worried that Mishka was out of step with the... (full context)
Book 2, 1923, An Actress, an Apparition, an Apiary
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
...sense of survival, the Count dons his finest smoking jacket and heads downstairs to meet Mishka. (full context)
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
One hour later, the Count sits in the hotel bar waiting for Mishka when he notices Anna once again, sitting with a “round-faced fellow with a receding hairline.”... (full context)
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Mishka arrives in the bar, but explains that he can only stay for a drink, not... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Mishka describes a spontaneous poem recited by one of his favorite writers, Mayakovsky. Then, another writer,... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Mishka laughs and says that he will have to tell the Count’s joke to Katerina—another young... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Half an hour later, Mishka leaves the bar. As the Count gets up, Audrius beckons him and gives him a... (full context)
Book 2, 1924, Anonymity
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
...leaves Nina to her work and decides to read the paper before his dinner with Mishka, but he is surprised by the repetitiveness of the newspaper. He thinks to himself that... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count tosses the paper aside and looks at the clock, seeing that Mishka is now fifteen minutes late for dinner. Unlike the Count, Mishka has been busy after... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
...Count in the lobby before realizing that he has a message for the Count from Mishka: Katerina is under the weather, and thus Mishka will be returning to St. Petersburg early... (full context)
Book 2, 1926, Adieu
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...financial accounts in order, paid a visit to the barber, and written a letter to Mishka. He donned his burgundy smoking jacket and in its pocket placed a gold coin with... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
...junior seamstress, and Nina is moving with her father to an apartment for Party officials. Mishka had followed Katerina back to Kiev. Abram, the handyman with whom the Count still occasionally... (full context)
Book 3, Arachne’s Art
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
...feels him tugging at his own sleeve. The boy gives the Count a letter from Mishka, which he promptly opens. (full context)
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Mishka’s letter describes how he was unable to sleep the night before writing the letter and... (full context)
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Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...Count stops reading after the first page, deeply moved, particularly because he can see how Mishka will carry on himself. Four years earlier, Mishka had moved to Kiev with Katerina. Three... (full context)
Book 3, Absinthe
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...pay a visit. But Life, he thinks, is as devious as Death. It had given Mishka love and sent Andrey to the circus, and would one day find Nina, too. The... (full context)
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Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The following morning, the Count goes to finish Mishka’s letter, but cannot find it in his pocket. He thinks that it must have fallen... (full context)
Book 3, Addendum
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The same morning that the Count looks for Mishka’s letter, Nina and her comrades board a train headed for Ivanovo in order to help... (full context)
Book 3, Ascending, Alighting
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...Sofia. At the top of the stairs, however, he is surprised to find his friend Mishka. The Count sees that something is troubling his friend, and so he takes him back... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
That morning, Mishka’s editor, Shalamov, had asked him to come to his office. Shalamov pointed to a passage... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count tells Mishka that he is in the right to do what he did—that it is only one... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...Count sinks into bed, a series of worries keeps him awake. He is worried about Mishka’s battle with the editor, about Nina and her journey east, and about Sofia. He is... (full context)
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The narrator tells the reader that the Count had good reason to be worried about Mishka. The next morning, Mishka passes a statue of writer Maxim Gorky, who had established Socialist... (full context)
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Mishka returns to Shalamov’s office, and angrily asks if he plans to cut The Brothers Karamazov... (full context)
Book 3, Antics, Antitheses, an Accident
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...for food; he instead asked for the Count. The Count realizes that the man is Mishka, and immediately goes to greet him. (full context)
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Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Andrey suggests that Mishka and the Count catch up in Emile’s office. Emile places bread and salt on the... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Mishka explains that he now lives in the town of Yavas with many other prisoners, though... (full context)
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Mishka goes on to tell the Count that Russians are unusually adept at destroying what they... (full context)
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Mishka sees that he has unsettled the Count, and tells the Count why he has returned... (full context)
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The Count explains Mishka’s lament of Russia’s disappearing history, and Osip’s argument that brushing the past aside is necessary... (full context)
Book 4, 1950, Adagio, Andante, Allegro
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...still persisted as a whole. The Count sees Stepanovich, and the man sketching, and even Mishka, as examples of these moths. (full context)
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...the Count is brushing his teeth, Viktor Stepanovich is setting aside an arrangement for Sofia. Mishka is sewing together pages for a book. The young architect is working on a drawing... (full context)
Book 4, 1953, Apostles and Apostates
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Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
The woman introduces herself as Katerina, Mishka’s old love. The Count leads her back to his study. He assumes that something has... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count confesses that he is not a fine poet, as it was actually Mishka who had written “Where Is It Now?” The Count and Mishka had decided to publish... (full context)
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Katerina gives the Count a package containing Mishka’s project, and then she says that she should go. The Count asks where she will... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
...come to eat and he will not be alone in death. The Count weeps for Mishka’s death, particularly because he was the last person alive to have known the Count as... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The compilation ends with the passage from Chekhov’s letters that Mishka had cut so many years before. The Count understands why Shalamov had wanted to cut... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
When the Count closes Mishka’s book, he is lost in thought. But he is thinking of Katerina, and how a... (full context)
Book 5, Apotheosis
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...He takes only the essentials: three changes of clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, Anna Karenina, Mishka’s project, and the bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape he intends to drink on the tenth anniversary of... (full context)