Isaac Babel was a celebrated Russian author who penned short stories and plays from his experience and inspiration working as a long time journalist for various publications including his mentor Maxim Gorky. Literary critics such as Lionel Trilling have hailed Babels work as masterpieces of Soviet literature. Gallows humour and master of the understatement were 2 traits that littered his work, indeed on the night of his arrest Isaac Babel was quoted as saying to the arresting officers "So, I guess you don’t get much sleep, do you?". During the 1930's when Stalins grip onto power was tightening many writers changed their styles to suit the dictators whims, this led Babel to comment "I have become the master of a new genre: the genre of silence" as he withdrew more and more from publishing his works. He liked to live dangerously, his long affair with Yevgenia Feigenberg who was the wife of the chief of the NKVD Nikolai Yezhov subjected him to being followed although not arrested. Even during the bloody purge between 1936 and 1938 that Yezhov seemed to take pleasure out of he remained free but under close scrutiny. In an ironic twist that you would expect to come from the pen of the great writer himself, Yezhov was arrested and implicated Babel as a co-conspirator and enemy of the state. From the imagination of celebrated writers come great one liners so here is my compilation of 8 of the best Isaac Babel quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel
- Born: 13th July 1894, Odessa, Russian Empire
- Died: 27th January 1940, Butyrka prison, Moscow, USSR
- Occupation: Journalist, essayist and playwright
- Famous for: Red Cavalry and Odessa Tales both published in 1926
- Execution: He was a victim of the great purge carried out by Lavrenti Beria who sought and gained Joseph Stalins approval for his trial and subsequent execution by gunshot
- Influenced by: Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant and Maxim Gorky
- Controversy: He had a long standing affair with Yevgenia Feigenberg who was the wife of Nikolai Yezhov who was the chief of the feared Soviet Secret Police the NKVD
- Trivia: Although Babel was married to Yevgenia Gronfein he lived from 1934 until his arrest in 1939 with his common law wife Antonina Pirojkova. It was not until the 1990's that Antonia discovered that he had been executed in 1940
"No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a period in the right place"
"A well-thought-out story doesn’t need to resemble real life. Life itself tries with all its might to resemble a well-crafted story"
"For me the whole world is like a gigantic theater in which I am the only spectator without opera glasses"
"If the world could write itself, it would write like Tolstoy"
"A phrase is born into the world good and bad at the same time. The secret rests in a barely perceptible turn"
"We are born for the pleasure of work, fighting, love, we are born for that and nothing else"
"You're trying to live without enemies. That's all you think about, not having enemies"
"The right to write badly was the privilege we widely used"