“One feels right away that this is the kingdom of books. People working at the library commune with books, with the life reflected in them, and so become almost reflections of real-life human beings. Even the cloakroom attendants—not brown-haired, not blond, but something in between—are mysteriously quiet, filled with contemplative composure. At home on Saturday evenings they might well drink methylated spirits and give their wives long, drawn-out beatings, but at the library their comportment is staid, circumspect, and hazily somber.” – Isaac Babel, “The Public Library” (trans. Peter Constantine)

“Who in his youth has not dozed off on the edge of a sofa with his head propped on the breast of a high school girl, met by chance on life’s winding path? It is not necessarily such a bad thing, and more often than not there are no consequences, but one does have to show a little consideration for others, not to mention that the girl might well have to go to school the next day.” – Isaac Babel, “Mama, Rimma, and Alla” (trans. Peter Constantine)