Book//mark - Zoo, or Letters Not About Love | Viktor Shklovsky, 1923

 Zoo, or Letters Not About Love, 1923                                                   Viktor Shklovsky, 1893-1984

“You told me once that spring makes you feel as if you’ve lost or forgotten 
something and you can’t remember what.”

“Misfortune of this kind comes to many. Life is well ordered, like a nécessaire, but not
 all of us can find our places in it. Life tailors us for a certain person and laughs when 
we are drawn to someone unable to love us.
All this is simple--like postage stamps.”

“She is the only island for you in your life. From her there is no turning back 
for you. Only around her does the sea have color.”

"At first, I was drawn to you as sleep draws the head of a train passenger 
toward his neighbor's shoulder."

“Drink, friends– drink, great and small, from the bitter cup of love! No special qualifications 
required. Standing room only. And it is easy to be cruel– one need only not love. Love too
 understands neither Aramaic nor Russian. Love is like the nails used to pierce hands. 
The stag uses its antlers in combat, the nightingale does not sing in vain, but our
 books avail us nothing. This wound will not heal.”

“I’m not going to write about love. i’m going to write only about the weather.”

“He had begun to weep in Prague not out of sentimentality, but the way windows
 weep in a room heated for the first time in many weeks.”

“Life is hard for anyone who loves a woman or his art.”

"Quit writing about How, How, How much you love me, because at the third 'how much,' 
I start thinking about something else." - Alya

“Of all the contradictions, the most painful to me is that while the lips in question are
 busy renewing themselves, the heart is being worn to frazzle; and with it go the 
forgotten things, undetected.”

“Sick birds don’t like to be watched.”

“In Moscow, city of pedestrians, it was the engine that drove a driver to crime. A weapon makes
 a man bolder. A horse turns him into a calvryman. Things make of a man whatever he makes 
from them. Speed requires a goal.
Things are multiplying around us--there are ten or even a hundred times more of them now 
than there were two hundred years ago. Mankind has them under control,
 but the individual does not.”

"Allow me to be sentimental. Life has hold of me in a foreign 
land and it does with me what it will."

"So I write another letter.

I love you very much. You are the city I live in; you are the name of the month and the day.
 I float, salty and heavy with tears, barely keeping my head above water. I seem to be sinking,
 but even there, underwater-where the phone doesn’t ring and rumors don’t reach, where it is
 impossible to meet you-I will go on loving you.

I love you, yet you force me to hang onto the running boards of your life. My hands are 
freezing. I’m not jealous of people: I’m jealous of your time. It is impossible not to see you.

So what can I do when there is no substitute for love? 
You know nothing about the weight of all things."

Viktor Shklovsky, Zoo or Letters Not About Love, 1923

 Elsa Triolet, 1896 -1970 

While living in exile in Berlin, the formidable literary critic Viktor Shklovsky fell in love
 with Elsa Triolet. He fell into the habit of sending Elsa several letters a day, a situation
 she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love. 


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