These are the best A Gentleman in Moscow quotes to read by one of the most acclaimed authors of this generation, Amor Towles.
This #1 New York Times bestselling novel has stayed with me long since I first read it years ago. Because I love this character-driven book (and its protagonist, The Count) so much, I have also written book club questions for A Gentlemen in Moscow that you can also use to analyze the novel.
I wanted to also share A Gentleman in Moscow quotes because the novel is about the consequences of words, as the Count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol hotel in Moscow in 1922 after being deemed the unrepentant aristocrat to whom the poem, “Where Is It Now?”, questioning the purpose of the nobility, is attributed.
A Gentleman in Moscow begins with the poem "Where Is It Now?" published under the name of the protagonist Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, an aristocrat who, at the time, had free speech. It questioned whether the nobility was outdated (prior to its abolition), and it was considered to be a form of prerevolutionary rebellion.
A Gentleman in Moscow then follows decades of the Count's isolation within the walls of the Metropol hotel. As Russian enters tumultuous times outside his confines, his journey becomes one of emotional purpose and discovery.
(Read a longer summary of A Gentleman in Moscow.)
Accordingly, the types of A Gentleman in Moscow quotes you will read here cover a range of topics: freedom, love, family, friendship, parenting, politics, life lessons, fate, loss, change, and even wine.
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The Best A Gentleman in Moscow Quotes
Below are the top 38 A Gentleman in Moscow quotes for you to read, re-read, analyze, and savor.
“…if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”
“If patience wasn’t so easily tested, then it would hardly be a virtue.”
“But imagining what might happen if one’s circumstances were different was the only sure route to madness.”
“Fate would not have the reputation it has, if it simply did what it seemed it would do.”
“Fate does not take sides. It is fair-minded and generally prefers to maintain some balance between the likelihood of success and failure in all our endeavors.”
“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.”
“Life is every bit as devious as Death. It too can wear a hooded coat. It too can slip into town, lurk in an alley, or wait in the back of a tavern.”
“That sense of loss is exactly what we must anticipate, prepare for, and cherish to the last of our days; for it is only our heartbreak that finally refutes all that is ephemeral in love.
“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.”
“Long had he believed that a gentleman should turn to a mirror with a sense of distrust. For rather than being tools of self-discovery, mirrors tended to be tools of self-deceit.”
″‘A king fortifies himself with a castle,’ observed the Count, ‘a gentleman with a desk.‘”
“Silence can be a form of protest. It can be a means of survival. But it can also be a school of poetry—one with its own meter, tropes, and conventions. One that needn’t be written with pencils or pens; but that can be written in the soul with a revolver to the chest.”
“To what end, he wondered, had the Divine created the stars in heaven to fill a man with feelings of inspiration one day and insignificance the next?”
“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel? For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”
“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.”
“Whichever wine was within, it was decidedly not identical to its neighbors. On the contrary, the contents of the bottle in his hand was the product of a history as unique and complex as that of a nation, or a man. In its color, aroma, and taste, it would certainly express the idiosyncratic geology and prevailing climate of its home terrain. But in addition, it would express all the natural phenomena of its vintage. In a sip, it would evoke the timing of that winter's thaw, the extent of that summer's rain, the prevailing winds, and the frequency of clouds. Yes, a bottle of wine was the ultimate distillation of time and place; a poetic expression of individuality itself.”
“Now, when a man has been underestimated by a friend, he has some cause for taking offense—since it is our friends who should overestimate our capacities.”
“These two would have felt like old friends had they met just hours before. To some degree, this was because they were kindred spirits—finding ample evidence of common ground and cause for laughter in the midst of effortless conversation.”
“But at forty? They had enough appetite to eat well, enough temperance to drink in moderation, and enough wisdom to celebrate the absence of their children by getting a good night’s sleep.”
“For as it turns out, one can revisit the past quite pleasantly, as long as one does so expecting nearly every aspect of it to have changed.”
“...the tenure of friendships has never been governed by the passage of time.”
“The principle here is that a new generation owes a measure of thanks to every member of the previous generation. Our elders planted fields and fought in wars; they advanced the arts and sciences, and generally made sacrifices on our behalf. So by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect.”
"And he believed, most especially, in the reshaping of destinies by the slightest change in the thermometer."
“If you are in doubt, just remember that unlike adults, children want to be happy.”
"We don't know how a man or his achievements will be perceived three generations from now, any more than we know what his great-great-grandchildren will be having for breakfast on a Tuesday in March. Because when Fate hands something down to posterity, it does so behind its back."
“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.”
“Showing a sense of personal restraint that was almost out of character, the Count had restricted himself to two succinct pieces of parental advice. The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.”
“It is a sad but unavoidable fact of life," he began, "that as we age our social circles grow smaller. Whether from increased habit or diminished vigor, we suddenly find ourselves in the company of just a few familiar faces.”
“I’ll tell you what is convenient,” he said after a moment. “To sleep until noon and have someone bring you your breakfast on a tray. To cancel an appointment at the very last minute. To keep a carriage waiting at the door of one party, so that on a moment’s notice it can whisk you away to another. To sidestep marriage in your youth and put off having children altogether. These are the greatest of conveniences, Anushka—and at one time, I had them all. But in the end, it has been the inconveniences that have mattered to me most.”
“For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”
“No matter how much time passes, those we have loved never slip away from us entirely.”
“As we age, we are bound to find comfort from the notion that it takes generations for a way of life to fade.”
“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.”
“Alexander Rostov was neither scientist nor sage; but at the age of sixty-four he was wise enough to know that life does not proceed by leaps and bounds. It unfolds. At any given moment, it is the manifestation of a thousand transitions. Our faculties wax and wane, our experiences accumulate and our opinions evolve--if not glacially, then at least gradually. Such that the events of an average day are as likely to transform who we are as a pinch of pepper is to transform a stew.”
“He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of lucidity—a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of the life we had been meant to lead all along.”
“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.”
″‘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.‘”
Those are all the best A Gentleman in Moscow quotes.
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