A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by

Amor Towles

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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.
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Prologue Quotes

History has shown charm to be the final ambition of the leisure class. What I do find surprising is that the author of the poem in question could have become a man so obviously without purpose.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, 1922, An Ambassador Quotes

From the earliest age, we must learn to say good-bye to friends and family. […] But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu. And if it were to? We wouldn't welcome the education. For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends.

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus did the typewriters clack through the night, until that historic document had been crafted which guaranteed for all Russians freedom of conscience (Article 13), freedom of expression (Article 14), freedom of assembly (Article 15), and freedom to have any of these rights revoked should they be “utilized to the detriment of the socialist revolution” (Article 23)!

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

In the seventeen years since the making of that peace—hardly a generation—Russia had suffered a world war, a civil war, two famines, and the so-called Red Terror. In short, it had been through an era of upheaval that had spared none. Whether one’s leanings were left or right, Red or White, whether one’s personal circumstances had changed for the better or changed for the worse, surely at long last it was time to drink to the health of the nation.

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

And when the Count's parents succumbed to cholera within hours of each other in 1900, it was the Grand Duke who took the young Count aside and explained that he must be strong for his sister’s sake; that adversity presents itself in many forms; and that if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, An Appointment Quotes

Ever since its opening in 1905, the hotel’s suites and restaurants had been a gathering spot for the glamorous, influential, and erudite; but the effortless elegance on display would not have existed without the services of the lower floor.

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

And when that celestial chime sounds, perhaps a mirror will suddenly serve its truer purpose—revealing to a man not who he imagines himself to be, but who he has become.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, An Acquaintanceship Quotes

If he continued along this course, it would not take long for the ceiling to edge downward, the walls to edge inward, and the floor to edge upward, until the entire hotel had been collapsed into the size of a biscuit tin.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Around and About Quotes

For however decisive the Bolsheviks’ victory had been over the privileged classes on behalf of the Proletariat, they would be having banquets soon enough.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine.

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Advent Quotes

I should note that despite the brief appearance of the round-faced fellow with a receding hairline a chapter hence, he is someone you should commit to memory, for years later he will have great bearing on the outcome of this tale.

Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, 1924, Anonymity Quotes

Yes, a bottle of wine was the ultimate distillation of time and place; a poetic expression of individuality itself. Yet here it was, cast back into the sea of anonymity, that realm of averages and unknowns.

Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

Because the Bolsheviks, who were so intent upon recasting the future from a mold of their own making, would not rest until every last vestige of his Russia had been uprooted, shattered, or erased.

Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2, 1926, Adieu Quotes

And he believed, most especially, in the reshaping of destinies by the slightest change in the thermometer.

Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Arachne’s Art Quotes

With the slightest turn of the wrist the shards of glass tumble into a new arrangement. The blue cap of the bellhop is handed from one boy to the next, a dress as yellow as a canary is stowed in a trunk, a little red guidebook is updated with the new names of streets, and through Emile’s swinging door walks Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov—with the white dinner jacket of the Boyarsky draped across his arm.

Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

In the end, a parent's responsibility could not be more simple: To bring a child safely into adulthood so that she could have a chance to experience a life of purpose and, God willing, contentment.

Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 4, 1950, Adagio, Andante, Allegro Quotes

The pace of evolution was not something to be frightened by. For while nature doesn't have a stake in whether the wings of a peppered moth are black or white, it genuinely hopes that the peppered moth will persist.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Related Symbols: The Moths of Manchester
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Anecdotes Quotes

Looking back, it seems to me that there are people who play an essential role at every turn […] as if Life itself has summoned them once again to help fulfill its purpose. Well, since the day I was born, Sofia, there was only one time when Life needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time, and that was when your mother brought you to the lobby of the Metropol.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov (speaker), Nina Kulikova, Sofia
Page Number: 420-421
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Antagonists at Arms (And an Absolution) Quotes

“Your sort,” he sneered. “How convinced you have always been of

the rightness of your actions. As if God Himself was so impressed with your precious manners and delightful way of putting things that He blessed you to do as you pleased. What vanity.”

Related Characters: The Bishop (speaker), The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
Page Number: 433
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Apotheosis Quotes

It was, without question, the smallest room that he had occupied in his life; yet somehow, within those four walls the world had come and gone.

Page Number: 439
Explanation and Analysis:

At that moment, it somehow seemed to the Count that no one was out of place; that every little thing happening was part of some master plan; and that within the context of that plan, he was meant to sit in the chair between the potted palms and wait.

Page Number: 439
Explanation and Analysis:
Afterword, And Anon Quotes

And there in the corner, at a table for two, her hair tinged with gray, the willowy woman waited.

Page Number: 462
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.