Quotes from The Madonnas of Leningrad

Debra Dean ·  256 pages

Rating: (14.8K votes)


“You're unusual. That's better than popular if you have some courage.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach. He cannot follow her, and he wonders where she goes when she leaves.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“No one weeps anymore, or if they do it is over small things, inconsequential moments that catch them unprepared. What is left that is heartbreaking? Not death: death is ordinary. What is heartbreaking is the sight of a single gull lifting effortlessly from a street lamp. Its wings unfurl like silk scarves against the mauve sky, and Marina hears the rustle of its feathers. What is heartbreaking is that there is still beauty in the world.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“Whatever is eating her brain consumes only the fresher memories, the unripe moments”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“is eating her brain consumes only the fresher memories, the unripe moments. Her distant past is preserved, better than preserved. Moments that occurred in Leningrad sixty-some years”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad



“He nods solemnly and repeats the stock response of the Housing Committee whenever they address the perpetual shortage of apartments in Leningrad. “Privacy is a conceit of degenerate societies.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“They don't teach this in school anymore?' Anya asks and clucks in dismay. 'When I was a girl, we made memory palaces to helps us memorize for our examinations. You chose an actual place, a palace works best, but any building with lots of rooms would do, and then you furnished it with whatever you wished to remember.... Bur once you had learned the rooms, in your imagination you could add anything you wish. So, when we needed to memorize the Law of God, for instance, we closed our eyes and put a question and answer in each room." Page 68-69”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“Before you either turn away in disgust or wink knowingly at one another, you should know that the artist insists that this is a picture about love. Filial love. The old man has been condemned by the Roman senate to die of hunger, and his daughter has come to his prison cell and offered her breast to feed him. This has nothing to do with with the decorous love or amorous passions one is more accustomed to seeing in a painting. It is raw and wretched and demeaning. In the end, we are physical bodies and every abstract notion about love sinks beneath this fact.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


“didn’t matter. The bond that had first brought them together as children existed whether they spoke of it or not, the bond of survivors. Here in America, a relentlessly foolish and optimistic country, what they knew drew them closer together. She was his country and he hers. They were inseparable. Until now. She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach. He cannot follow her, and he wonders where she goes when she leaves.”
― Debra Dean, quote from The Madonnas of Leningrad


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About the author

Debra Dean
Born place: Seattle, The United States
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