Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ehrenburg's The Stormy Life of Laz Roitshvantz

Below are a few favorite citations culled from Ilya Ehrenburg's The Stormy Life of Laz Roitshvantz. Please also see my other post on the subject, Laz Roitshvantz's Russia.

"She can claim such early Party adherence that it makes you dizzy to think of it.  Just look at those eyes!  What relentless determination lurks there!"

"It was not his surname that ruined Laz.  A sigh was to blame.  Or perhaps not a sign, perhaps the economic system, or the heat wave, or even some high-level problem."

"For how could old Hershanovich claim to be a craft worker (self-employed)?  What did he produce?  Nothing but circumcisions of innocent little boys, at three rubles a-piece."

"That fellow Schatzman stared at me ten minutes without blinking, either he means to marry you or he wants to get me beyond the Artic Circle."

"Time is not money.  Time is more than money.  You have robbed me, and consequently the workers' State as a whole, of five valuable minutes."

"In the old synagogue school I was taught the Talmus.  Of course, that is all deception, and since then I have read the ABC of Communism from one cover to the other."

"Surely you don't really think that I, Lazar Roitshvantz, who have survived eight different regimes, do not know so simple a thing?"

"From the standpoint of eugenics, a marriage consumated in a graveyard is likely to produce abnormal offspring."

"I will even promise never to sigh again and to devote the rest of my not unlimited life to the Chinese Question."

"Laz knew very well what had ruined him in court, and he had now solemnly sworn to himself in future to reduce thought to a minimum."

"As we say in Gomel, there can even be honor in spitting."

"I am a victim just like Beilis, except that America took Beilis' part, but who's going to take mine?  Nobody."

"Not to lead lesser men into temptation, Chebyshev only wore his English suits in the home behind tightly closed shutters."

"Before the Revolution I occupied myself exclusively with Roman Law.  That's quite a bit different from planting cabbages."

"How is a man like me going to earn his living, a simpleton, a naive Russian, amid all this impudent Jewish confraternity.  How, I ask you!"

"Your wisecracks are not to my taste.  They are tiresome and middle-class."

"But my vision beheld those eyes, and in a flass all my class-consciousness evaporated."

"...he was not really human flesh, he was nothing but elevated thought."

"...though you and I are both good Marxists, we are, pardon me, also real human beings..."

"You have just not got a glimmering of the most elementary dialectics."

"I have had six different domicilary visits about those accursed trousers, and if anything saved me in the end it was having a pure red past."

"...I am merely a non-established addressee."

"Will you claim to be as clever as Trotsky?"

"It's good pre-war stuff, and it has withstood eight very assorted regimes."

"Laz was quite clear that when the imperialists of Paris wriggled their feet, that was merely the death spasms of corpses already in a state of putrefaction."

"..I am a Party candidate without a stain on my name..."

" are interested in diseased pleasures, erotic excesses, the scum thrown up by the NEP policy."

"I am devoted to the resplendent ideal, and I am wriggling my way towards it."

"...instead of stupid sturgeon we have before us men like Kant and together with him are 1,071 other criminals."

"There you have it," he cried, triumphantly, "typical rose-water of a petty-bourgeois superstructure."

"Like a mangy sheep you should drive from your presence any man who sinks so low as to substitute love skilly like that for iron materialism."

"In the shrubberies were couples totally divested of Party, locked in kisses."

"And where is it written that I have the right to purchase the happiness of the whole of complex mankind with old Hersch's life?"

"Laz could not have lived a day here by his scissors.  He was saved by his brilliant dialectics."

"Well, and what do you feed your rabbits on?"...Nothing but official imagination," he said.

"Roitshvantz, you lie as if you were not human, you might be a newspaper."

"I am not a divinity.  I do clerical work."

"When all was said and done, dear Fanny was fruit of a reactionary tree..."

"Now explain exactly who you really are!"..."Very simple.  If you're the foundation, I'm the superstructure."

"I can carve anything up from the Marxist angle."

""I am just coming to the end of the sixth volume of a Marxist critique of a variety of configurations."  In some this excited respectful alarm, in others, envy."

No comments:

Post a Comment