Best 69 of Vasily Grossman quotes - MyQuotes

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Vasily Grossman
By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Astra is a beauty. (...) Astra is so beautiful that I have no wish to describe her beauty. I will say only that her beauty is the expression of her soul. Her beauty lives in her quiet walk, in her shy movements, in her always-lowered eyelids, in her barely perceptible smile, in the soft outline of her girlish shoulders, in the chastity of her poor, almost beggarly clothing, in her thoughtful grey eyes. She is a white water lily in a pond shadowed by the branches of trees, born amid still, contemplative water. (...) The world of modest female beauty finds its expression in Astra. As for what may lie hidden in the depths of these waters, no-one can say unless he breaks the water's smooth surface, walks barefoot through the cutting sedge and treads the silty, sucking mud — now cold, now strangely warm. But I only stand on the shore, admiring the lily from a distance

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher's definitions of good and evil? But what if life itself is evil?

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Your heart is raw and bleeding. Everything is strange and terrible.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Before the war Sofya Levinton had once said to Yevgenia Nikolaevna Shaposhnikova, 'If one man is fated to be killed by another, it would be interesting to trace the gradual convergence of their paths. At the start they might be miles away from one another – I might be in Pamir picking alpine roses and clicking my camera, while this other man, my death, might be eight thousand miles away, fishing for ruff in a little stream after school. I might be getting ready to go to a concert and he might be at the railway station buying a ticket to go and visit his mother-in-law – and yet eventually we are bound to meet, we can't avoid it...

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

I used to think freedom was freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience. But freedom is the whole life of everyone. Here is what it amounts to: you have to have the right to sow what you wish to, to make shoes or coats, to bake into bread the flour ground from the grain you have sown, and to sell it or not sell it as you wish; for the lathe operator, the steelworker, and the artist it’s a matter of being able to live as you wish and work as you wish and not as they order you to. And in our country there is no freedom – not for those who write books nor for those who sow grain nor for those who make shoes.” (Grossman, p. 99) He noted that “In people’s day-to-day struggle to live, in the extreme efforts workers put forth to earn an extra ruble through moonlighting, in the collective farmers’ battle for bread and potatoes as the one and only fruit of their labor, he [Ivan Grigoryevich] could sense more than the desire to live better, to fill one’s children’s stomachs and to clothe them. In the battle for the right to make shoes, to knit sweaters, in the struggle to plant what one wished, was manifested the natural, indestructible striving toward freedom inherent in human nature. He had seen this very same struggle in the people in camp. Freedom, it seemed, was immortal on both sides of the barbed wire.” (Grossman, p. 110)

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

And the greatest tragedy of our age is we don't listen to our consciences. We don't say what we think. We feel one thing and do another.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

I don't want to be told that it's the people with power over us who are guilty, that we're innocent slaves, that we're not guilty because we're not free. I am free! I'm building a Vernichtungslager; I have to answer to the people who'll be gassed here. I can say "No". There's nothing can stop me—as long as I can find the strength to face my destruction.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

At war a Russian man puts on a white shirt. He may live in sin, but he dies like a saint.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Sofya now understood the difference between life and existence: her life had come to an end, but her existence could drag on indefinitely. And however wretched and miserable this existence was, the thought of violent death still filled her with horror.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

To Polyakov it was as though a fierce wind from downstream was sweeping up the Volga. Several times he was knocked off his feet; he fell to the ground no longer knowing what world he lived in, whether he was old or young, what was up and what was down. But Klimov dragged him along and finally they slid to the bottom of a huge crater. Here the darkness was threefold: the darkness of night, the darkness of dust and smoke, the darkness of a deep pit. They lay there beside one another; the same soft light, the same prayer for life filled both their heads. It was the same light, the same touching hope that glows in all heads and all hearts – in those of birds and animals as well as in those of human beings.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Vasily Grossman

My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The sea was not freedom; it was a likeness of freedom, a symbol of freedom...How splendid freedom must be if a mere likeness of it, a mere reminder of it, is enough to fill a man with happiness.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

How many people there were like him – forgotten during unforgettable years.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When a person dies, they cross over from the realm of freedom to the realm of slavery. Life is freedom, and dying is a gradual denial of freedom. Consciousness first weakens and then disappears. The life-processes – respiration, the metabolism, the circulation – continue for some time, but an irrevocable move has been made towards slavery; consciousness, the flame of freedom, has died out. The stars have disappeared from the night sky; the Milky Way has vanished; the sun has gone out; Venus, Mars and Jupiter have been extinguished; millions of leaves have died; the wind and the oceans have faded away; flowers have lost their colour and fragrance; bread has vanished; water has vanished; even the air itself, the sometimes cool, sometimes sultry air, has vanished. The universe inside a person has ceased to exist. This universe is astonishingly similar to the universe that exists outside people. It is astonishingly similar to the universes still reflected within the skulls of millions of living people. But still more astonishing is the fact that this universe had something in it that distinguished the sound of its ocean, the smell of its flowers, the rustle of its leaves, the hues of its granite and the sadness of its autumn fields both from those of every other universe that exists and ever has existed within people, and from those of the universe that exists eternally outside people. What constitutes the freedom, the soul of an individual life, is its uniqueness. The reflection of the universe in someone's consciousness is the foundation of his or her power, but life only becomes happiness, is only endowed with freedom and meaning when someone exists as a whole world that has never been repeated in all eternity. Only then can they experience the joy of freedom and kindness, finding in others what they have already found in themselves.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

In the cruel and terrible time in which our generation has been condemned to live on this earth, we must never make peace with evil. We must never become indifferent to others or undemanding of ourselves.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Human groupings have one main purpose: to assert everyone’s right to be different, to be special, to think, feel and live in his or her own way. People join together in order to win or defend this right. But this is where a terrible, fateful error is born: the belief that these groupings in the name of a race, a God, a party or a State are the very purpose of life and not simply a means to an end. No! The only true and lasting meaning of the struggle for life lies in the individual, in his modest peculiarities and in his right to these peculiarities.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Perfect worlds do not exist. There are only the funny, strange, weeping, singing, truncated, and imperfect universes created by the gods of paintbrush and musical instruments, the gods who infuse their creations with their own blood, their own soul. When he looks at these worlds, the true Lord of Hosts, the creator of the universe, probably cannot help but smile mockingly

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The history of humanity is the history of human freedom...Freedom is not, as Engels thought, "the recognition of necessity." Freedom is the opposite of necessity. Freedom is necessity overcome. Progress is, in essence, the progress of human freedom. Yes, and after all, life itself is freedom. The evolution of life is the evolution of freedom.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Denna styrka hos den statliga nationalismen och denna vettlösa nationalism hos de människor som berövats frihet och människovärde blev till den nya ordningens förnämsta drivkraft, dess kärnstridsspets, och blev bestämmande för 1900-talets hela ödeslopp.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When you were a child, you used to run to me for protection. Now, in moments of weakness, I want to hide my head on your knees; I want you to be strong and wise; I want you to protect and defend me. I'm not always strong in spirit, Vitya – I can be weak too. I often think about suicide, but something holds me back – some weakness, or strength, or irrational hope.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The century of Einstein and Planck was also the century of Hitler. The Gestapo and the scientific renaissance were children of the same age. How humane the nineteenth century seemed, that century of naive physics, when compared with the twentieth century, the century that had killed his [Viktor's] mother. There is a terrible similarity between the principles of Fascism and those of contemporary physics. Fascism has rejected the concept of a separate individuality, the concept of "a man," and operates only with vast aggregates. Contemporary physics speaks of the greater or lesser probability of occurrences within this or that aggregate of individual particles. And are not the terrible mechanics of Fascism founded on the principle of quantum politics, of political probability? Fascism arrived at the idea of the liquidation of entire strata of the population, of entire nations and races, on the grounds that there was a greater probability of overt or covert opposition among these groupings than among others: the mechanics of probabilities and of human aggregates. But no! No! And again no! Fascism will perish for the very reason that it has applied to man the laws applicable to atoms and cobblestones! Man and Fascism cannot co-exist. If Fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

There are people whose souls have just withered, people who are willing to go along with anything evil - anything so as not to be suspected of disagreeing with whoever is in power.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Both his voice and eyes had the burning cold of alcohol. His strength no longer lay in his military experience or his knowledge of the map, but in his harsh, impetuous soul.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The longer a nation's history, the more wars, invasions, wanderings, and periods of captivity it has seen-the greater the diversity of its faces.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

He walked on down the dark, empty street. Suddenly an idea came to him. Immediately, with his whole being, he knew it was true. He had glimpsed a new and improbable explanation for the atomic phenomena that up until now had seemed so hopelessly inexplicable; abysses had suddenly changed into bridges. What clarity and simplicity! This idea was astonishingly graceful and beautiful. It seemed to have given birth to itself – like a white water-lily appearing out of the calm darkness of a lake. He gasped, reveling in its beauty… And how strange, he thought suddenly, that this idea should have come to him when his mind was far away from anything to do with science, when the discussions that so excited him were those of free men, when his words and the words of his friends had been determined only by freedom, by bitter freedom.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Everyone feels guilty before a mother who has lost her son in a war; throughout human history men have tried in vain to justify themselves.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The snow here hadn't thawed. Its large, rough crystals were filled with the blue of the lake-water. But on the sunny side of the hill the snow was just beginning to melt. The ditch beside the path was full of gurgling water. The glitter of the snow, the water and the ice on the puddles was quite blinding. There was so much light, it was so intense, that they seemed almost to have to force their way through it. It disturbed them and got in their way; when they stepped on the thin film of ice over the puddles, it seemed to be light that was crunching under their feet, breaking up into thin, splinter-like rays. And it was light that was flowing down the ditch beside the path; where the path was blocked by stones, the light swelled up, foaming and gurgling. The spring sun seemed to be closer to the earth than ever. The air was cool and warm at the same time.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The snow filled the air with a soft grey-blue mist, softening the wind and gunfire, bringing the earth and sky together into one swaying blur. The snow fell on Bach's shoulders; it was as though flakes of silence were falling on the still Volga, on the dead city, on the skeletons of horses. It was snowing everywhere, on earth and on the stars; the whole universe was full of snow. Everything was disappearing beneath it: guns, the bodies of the dead, filthy dressings, rubble, scraps of twisted iron. This soft, white snow settling over the carnage of the city was time itself; the present was turning into the past, and there was no future.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

We should call on the Creator to show more modesty. He created the world in a frenzy of excitement. Instead of revising his rough drafts, he had his work printed straightaway. What a lot of contradictions there are in it. What a log of typing errors, inconsistencies in the plot, passages that are too long and wordy, characters that are entirely superfluous. But it is painful and difficult to cut and trim the living cloth of a book written and published in too much of a hurry

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Chekhov said: let's put God - and all these grand progressive ideas - to one side. Let's begin with man; let's be kind and attentive to the individual man - whether he's a bishop, a peasant, an industrial magnate, a convict in the Sakhalin Islands, or a waiter in a restaurant. Let's begin with respect, compassion, and love for the individual - or we'll never get anywhere.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The nationalism of a small nation can, with treacherous ease, become detached from its roots in what is noble and human. It then become pitiful, making the nation appear smaller rather than greater. It is the same with nations as with individuals; while trying to draw attention to the inadequacies of others, people all too often reveal their own.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The people in the hospital had been struck by her calm and the number of questions she had asked. They hadn't appreciated her inability to understand something quite obvious – that Tolya was no longer among the living. Her love was so strong that Tolya's death was unable to affect it: to her, he was still alive. She was mad, but no one had noticed. Now, at last, she had found Tolya. Her joy was like that of a mother-cat when she finds her dead kitten and licks it all over. A soul can live in torment for years and years, even decades, as it slowly, stone by stone, builds a mound over a grave; as it moves towards the apprehension of eternal loss and bows down before reality.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Communication between people of different nationalities enriches human society and makes it more colourful.. Imagine our Russian intellectuals, the kind, merry, perceptive old women in our villages, our elderly workers, our young lads, our little girls being free to enter the melting pot of ordinary human intercourse with the people of North and South America, of China, France, India, Britain and the Congo. What a rich variety of customs, fashion, cuisine and labour would then be revealed! what a wonderful human community would then come into being, emerging out of so many peculiarities of national characters and ways of life. And the beggarliness, blindness and inhumanity of narrow nationalism and hostility between states would be clearly demonstrated.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

There was something terrible, but also something sad and melancholy in this long cry uttered by the Russian infantry as they staged an attack. As it crossed the cold water, it lost its fervour. Instead of valour or gallantry, you could hear the sadness of a soul parting with everything that it loved, calling on its nearest and dearest to wake up, to lift their head from their pillows and hear for the last time the voice of a father, a husband, a son or a brother...

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Another fact that allowed Fascism to gain power over men was their blindness. A man cannot believe that he is about to be destroyed. The optimism of people standing on the edge of the grave is astounding.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

In the blank wall of the world’s indifference there had appeared a tiny snakelike fissure

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Why do people have memories? It would be easier to die - anything to stop remembering.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

This absolute lack of objectivity might be said to resemble nothing so much as the lack of objectivity these same people had shown during Stalin's life, when they had been so supremely worshipful of his mind and strength of will, of his foresight and genius. Their hysterical worship of Stalin and their total and unconditional rejection of him sprang from the same soil.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Thousands of people are being buried and no one attends the funerals,' said one of the soldiers. 'In peacetime it's the other way round: one coffin and a hundred people carrying flowers.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

What constitutes the character of a nation is the character of many individual human beings; every national character is in essence, simply human nature. All the worlds nations, therefore, have a great deal in common with one another. The foundation of any national character is human nature. The foundation of national character is simply a particular colouring taken on by human nature, a particular crystallisation of it.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When you think about new-born babies being killed in our own lifetime,' he said, 'all the efforts of culture seem worthless. What have people learned from all our Goethes and Bachs? To kill babies?

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

And it was not merely tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions of people who were the obedient witnesses of this slaughter of the innocent. Nor were they merely obedient witnesses: when ordered to, they gave their support to this slaughter, voting in favour of it amid a hubbub of voices. There was something unexpected in their degree of obedience... The extreme violence of the totalitarian social systems proved able to paralyse the human spirit throughout whole continents.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Vasily Grossman

No artist has painted A true portrait of Lenin Ages to come will complete Lenin's unfinished portrait. Did Poletaev understand the tragic implication of his lines about Lenin? (pg179)

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Ivan tells Anna: "I used to imagine that being embraced by a woman . . . as something so wonderful that it would make me forget everthing . . . [But] happiness, it turns out, will be to share with you the burden I can't share with anyone else.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

What matters is the need to move from the rigidity of national stereotypes towards something more truly human; what matters is to discover the riches of human hearts and souls; what matters is the human content of poetry and science, the universal charm and beauty of architecture; what matters is the magnanimity of a nation's leaders and historical figures. only by exalting what is truly human, only by fusing the national with what is universally human, can try dignity - and true freedom - be achieved. It is the struggle for freedom of thought and expression, the struggle for a peasant's freedom to sow what he wants to sow, for everyone's freedom to enjoy the fruits of their own work - this is the true struggle for national dignity. The only real triumph of national freedom is one that brings about the triumph of all human freedom. For small nations and large nations alike, this is the only way forward. And it goes without saying that the Russians too - as well as Armenians, Georgians, Kazakhs, Kalmyks and Uzbeks - must understand that it is precisely through renouncing the idea of their own national superiority that they can truly affirm the grandeur and dignity of their own people, of their own literature and science.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

In great hearts the cruelty of life gives birth to good.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Man’s innate yearning for freedom can be suppressed but never destroyed. Totalitarianism cannot renounce violence. If it does, it perishes. Eternal, ceaseless violence, overt or covert, is the basis of totalitarianism. Man does not renounce freedom voluntarily. This conclusion holds out hope for our time, hope for the future.