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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  11,824 ratings  ·  1,035 reviews
Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by “one of the most gripping writers imaginable” (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, one Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist ...more
Paperback, Penguin Essentials, 415 pages
Published July 4th 2002 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published November 6th 2001)
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Jaap I guess I just got to the 9-page sentence... and am still waiting for it to end with "mit" :)

It's not the easiest thing to read, but as Tom said, not…more
I guess I just got to the 9-page sentence... and am still waiting for it to end with "mit" :)

It's not the easiest thing to read, but as Tom said, not impossible. It does take a bit of intellectual effort in that it uses fragments of other languages too, but they are clear enough from the context.(less)

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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,824 ratings  ·  1,035 reviews

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Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the kinds of reviews to write, the ecstatically enthusiastic ones are the worst, I think. No matter how much you try to pepper your review with big words and thoughtful commentary, you inevitably end up sounding like a gum-chomping tween girl squealing the paint off the walls about some boy band that looks like it should be directed to a hormone therapy ward.

Being openly enthusiastic about virtually anything can be tough—because it makes you vulnerable. It's like this: in a moment of wea
Glenn Russell
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing

“No one can explain exactly what happens within us when the doors behind which our childhood terrors lurk are flung open.”
― W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

Turning the pages of the novel Austerlitz makes for one powerful, emotionally wrenching experience. Here's what esteemed critic Michiko Kakutani wrote as part of her New York Times review: "We are transported to a memoryscape - a twilight, fogbound world of half-remembered images and ghosts that is reminiscent at once of Ingmar Bergman's
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust
There’s something reminiscent of an archaeological dig about Austerlitz – the quest to piece back together a missing life by sifting through layers of the past. The finds often appearing random and impenetrable until eventually a cypher is discovered.

Austerlitz reads like the autobiography of an academic, recounted in instalments to the stranger he repeatedly meets in various locations, who has lived a hermetic and fruitless life. You’re never quite sure if you’re reading biography or fiction,
Luís C.
Austerlitz ...

Great Napoleonic victory ..... how many people can boast of having this surname not banal?

People with extraordinary destiny probably ... it would be difficult to understand that such people remain in the shadows ...

Jacques Austerlitz, the main character of this book by WG Sebald is one of those, a scholar, a passionate, a philosopher, a man in search of his past, that of his family ... What was his life before the age of 4 and a half? .... Has he always called Austerlitz? Has he al
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
”It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last… And might it not be, continued Austerlitz, that we also have appointments to keep in the past, in what has gone before and is for the most part extinguished, and must go there in search of places and people who have some connection with us on the far side of time, so to speak?”

I have trouble writing about Sebald. I read Th
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tedesca
Di fronte a pagine monolitiche, prive di interruzioni e a capo, con periodi lunghi, ricerca del dettaglio e frequenti digressioni, ci si può perdere: ma non qui.
Le fotografie, bellissime, spezzano la lettura: e più ci si avvicina alla fine e più sembra che aumentino e compaiano anche le prime interruzioni, i primi spazi bianchi: proprio quando il libro sta per finire, e io non lo volevo affatto lasciare, volevo che continuasse, senza sosta.
C’è ancora tanta memoria del
Steven Godin
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first came across the writings of W.G. Sebald by complete accident, wandering in a bookstore I accidentally caught the edge of a table and sent three or four books hurtling to the floor, one was Sebald's 'Vertgo' a book that was unfamiliar to me, but one that caught my attention. Although it didn't set the world on fire for me in ways I had hoped for, it was no doubt the work of a true ingenious writer who pushed the boundaries of fiction into new territory. Within just three pages of reading ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz is an austere but beautiful narrative within a narrative about identity and loss with the Holocaust as a looming backdrop. The narrator (unnamed) records conversations with Joseph (Jacques) Austerlitz whom he meets a few times by chance and later at the whim of Austerlitz. This secondary narrator talks about his life before discovering his origins and the incredible quest across the Czech Republic, Germany, and France to find memories of his mother and father. There wer ...more
Austerlitz fascinated me, but I couldn't say I loved it. Reading this book gave me the feeling of being jet-lagged somewhere in a strange city at three o'clock in the morning, having strange revelations that would seem bizarre in the daylight. Not a feeling I dislike, by any means. Sebald's attempts to find a prose style to match his explorations of memory and loss are beautiful and haunting, but for me at least the effect was more soporific than exhilarating. Maybe ‘hypnotic’ is a better word. ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germania, 1001, favorites

Tempo e memoria

Un lento viaggio a ritroso nella memoria. Un viaggio nel tempo, nei ricordi sbiaditi, nelle fotografie consumate, in vecchi documenti. Parole e immagini scorrono davanti a noi anche se spesso non correlate. Il flusso dei pensieri vaga e ci porta in strane direzioni apparentemente senza ragione; ma c'è sempre una ragione, che improvvisamente prende forma.

Tempo e memoria.

Ogni costruzione, ogni edificio, ogni chiesa ogni castello trova la sua giustificazione d'essere nel passato, nel
Emilio Berra
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letto
Un'animata solitudine
Può contenere spoiler
Sebald è considerato forse il miglior scrittore tedesco degli ultimi decenni.
Dopo aver letto il piacevole breve testo "Il passeggiatore solitario", belle pagine sulle tracce di un altro grande, R. Walser, m'attendevo qualcosa di diverso da questo libro, "Austerlitz", salutato dai critici come autentico capolavoro, il cui protagonista è un docente di Storia dell'Architettura, studioso solitario spesso in viaggio per l'Europa, visitatore di luoghi partico
Roger Brunyate
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust, history
After the Holocaust

This extraordinary book is the inner narrative of an elderly adopted Englishman trying to recapture a childhood shattered by the Holocaust, and to come to grips with the resultant sickness of postwar Europe. But this Freudian search is firmly rooted in the detail of everyday things: a childhood in Wales, curiosities of natural history, old photographs, the architecture of railroad stations. Its multi-layered narrative style, almost devoid of paragraphs, keeps you at a distance
Το Άσχημο Ρύζι Καρολίνα
Διάβασα σε αυτό το μυθιστόρημα, την τρίτη πιο συναισθηματικά φορτισμένη φράση, που έχω συναντήσει ποτέ σε λογοτεχνικό έργο. Η πρώτη είναι η αρχή του θρήνου της Αντιγόνης: «Ω, τάφε μου, ω, νυφιάτικό μου, ω αιώνια, βαθιά στη γη, σκαμμένη κατοικιά μου». Η δεύτερη είναι τα λόγια του γιατρού Πασκάλ, στην «Περιουσία των Ρουγκόν», στο πεδίο της μάχης: «Elle est morte». Και η τρίτη υπάρχει σε αυτό το βιβλίο είναι κραυγή της ηλικιωμένης Βέρας που αναφωνεί: «Jacquot, dis, est-ce que c'est vraiment toi?» Κ ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Altissimo livello sotto tutti i punti di vista: la prosa, la costruzione narrativa, la cultura dell'autore; ma la dose di digressioni su cui si basa tutto l'impianto è molto massiccia, forse un po' più di quel che il mio povero stomaco è in grado di digerire e assimilare. E' una lettura cupa e anche un filo lugubre e angosciosa: questo, per quanto possibile, è da intendersi in un'accezione positiva, è il raggiungimento di un obiettivo, credo fosse esattamente questa la sensazione che l'autore vo ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Salle des pas perdus"

"Tra le persone in attesa nella Salle des pas perdus c’era Austerlitz, un uomo che allora, nel ’67, aveva un aspetto quasi giovanile, con i capelli biondi singolarmente ondulati, come li ho visti soltanto all’eroe germanico Siegfried nel film di Lang sui Nibelunghi"

Non è un caso che il narratore (forse Sebald stesso) incontri Austerlitz in una stazione, e non è un caso che l'incontro avvenga nella Stanza dei passi perduti.
Austerlitz è un viaggiatore spartano, coltissimo, u
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-german, favourites
Not so much a narrative as a book length meditation on memory in all its forms, personal, cultural, collective. Sentences that are like whole landscapes, images that linger and resonate, a main character that will haunt me for weeks to come. This is one that lives up to all the praise it has garnered. Idiosyncratic, impressive and deeply unsettling.
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tata J, Joseph
Recommended to K.D. by: 501, 1001, The Millions
The saddest book that I've read so far.

Imagine that you, at the age of 4, were separated from your parents during the war and you were raised by people who you thought were your real parents. Then towards your midlife, you knew that your biological parents were tortured and killed mercilessly but you did not have any concrete information about them except some vague assumptions? And that there were these scenes from that period that reside in the recesses of your mind but could not fully figure
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, 2018-read
How do we (re-)construct the past, and how does memory shape us? In this novel, Sebald discusses many aspects of personal memory and the re-telling of history as a cultural and culturally shaped technique, themes that are also central in the scientific works of Jan and Aleida Assmann who just yesterday received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. I think it's very telling that experts on cultural memory receive a PEACE prize, as the way we face, frame and remember our personal and the hist ...more
John David
Many reviewers have cited the difficulty of the prose in “Austeritz,” but I find this difficult to comprehend. Have they never read Proust? Joyce? Faulkner? Once one has survived these trials by fire, Sebald’s prose is comparatively accessible. Still others have claimed that this is a “Holocaust novel,” and I find this equally perplexing. Certainly, while Austerlitz’s childhood experience of being sent to England via Kindertransport away from his parents forms a locus for what little narrative d ...more
Lucas Sierra
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ayer en la noche terminé de leer Austerlitz, novela a la que llegué por recomendación de un profesor de literatura comparada y en cuyas primeras cuarenta páginas no encontraba, realmente, algo a lo cuál aferrar un entusiasmo cualquiera. Estaba bien escrita, sí, pero el tono de ensayo solemne no conseguía convencerme. Por suerte, cuando leer no es la búsqueda del divertimento se nos permiten encuentros valiosos como recompensa al empeño de insistir, y esta lectura es, sin duda, un valiosísimo enc ...more
Stephen P
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read, interiority
Sacred: veneration revered, hallowed, is some of the ways the dictionary defines it, defines Sebald’s writing stretched in its own subconscious of the connections of words and letters.

Connections deemed necessary. Without them the altar of memories crumble. The disconnection of memory, dammed in its own painful fear leaves Austerlitz in a search for himself.

In the meetings over the years, unplanned, coincidental, the narrator let’s Austerlitz speaking his words of polished melancholia, as Sebal
Buğra Aydoğan
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sebald'a ilgi duymamın başlıca nedeni adının sık sık Thomas Bernhard ile birlikte anılmasıydı. Daha ilk sayfalarda Sebald'ın Thomas Bernhard'dan çok farklı, çok daha kırılgan bir yazar olduğu belli oluyor. Kendisini okumaya devam etmek için bir çok nedenim var artık.

Austerlitz fazlasıyla kasvetli ve karmaşık bir kitap. 1940'lı yıllarda Galler'de Calvinist bir aile tarafından yetiştirilmiş, mimarlık tarihçisi Jacques Austerlitz'in kendi köklerinin izini sürmesini okuyoruz. Sebald, kasvetli ve pür
Cláudia Azevedo
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Austerlitz é um livro duro, difícil, em que cada palavra parece impregnada de uma tristeza existencial impossível de ultrapassar perante a confrontação com os horrores da política nazi.
Como conta o narrador, Austerlitz, tendo embora sido enviado para o País de Gales a tempo de ver salva a sua vida, não deixa de ser vítima desse regime macabro que lhe roubou a família e a identidade.
O livro conta parte do percurso de recuperação dolorosa de uma memória individual e coletiva.

"Fiquei como cego di
Disse Austerlitz, disse Sebald.

Austerlitz è un viaggio doloroso e immaginifico nei meandri della memoria - claustrofobico, agorafobico, labirintico - ma è anche un viaggio attraverso l'Europa, da Anversa a Londra, da Parigi a Praga, un viaggio fisico e spirituale apparentemente senza meta. È il vagabondare della mente alla ricerca del proprio corpo e delle proprie radici, perché Austerlitz quelle radici le ha perse e non sa chi sia.
Sebald incontra Jacques Austerlitz, un professore di Storia dell
MJ Nicholls
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
More meandering and glorious Sebaldian prose, with sentences callipered from 18thC German texts and respooled into post-war Wales, France and Germany, with one man’s attempt to comprehend the horrors of the Theresienstadt workcamp and—obliquely—the Holocaust. This novel is a longer, more distancing work than The Emigrants or Vertigo, both chopped into four chapters and separate narrative threads.

The framing device here is unusual, with the narrator (Sebald?) quoting long screeds of dialogue fro

I have read 160 pages of 414. I am giving this book up. It is not to my taste. Just as as in the last book I read, Far to Go, this is about those children who escaped Nazi cpntrolled countries through Kindertransport during WW2. In both books the child was transported away from Czechoslovakia. Both children were about 5-6 years of age. Both books are about those children who never again are united with thêir parents, about children who only at an adult age realize they were born in
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translations
This book is a hauntingly beautiful work of art. The unnamed narrator shares the story of his acquaintance slowly and vaguely, almost like watching fog rolling in. It’s incredibly moving to read how Austerlitz gradually unravels how he came to be the man he is and what his true history is.

I would be fascinated to learn more about how this was written, what parts are based on the author’s life and where the pictures came from. I’ve never read anything like it before, and I’m convinced it needs t
Austerlitz, zainetto logoro e sguardo triste, ha vissuto gran parte della vita ignorando le proprie origini, inizialmente perfino il proprio vero nome. Senza ricordi, perché ha fatto di tutto per soffocarli sostituendo alla memoria l’accumulo di conoscenza, è uno studioso di architettura. Un incontro casuale con l’io narrante, cui ne seguiranno altri non previsti, segna l’inizio di un’insolita amicizia. Dai primi scambi in cui Austerlitz evita accuratamente qualunque riferimento di natura person ...more
Friederike Knabe
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-lit
This has been a totally absorbing reread of this extraordinary and deeply reflective story on identity, memory and the loss of roots and family. It is without doubt one of those books that should be read more than once. Brilliantly translated by Anthea Bell, it is an intellectual feat and an emotional journey in either language. I have worked with it in both. Enriched by black/white photos, we find ourselves constantly moving between fact and fiction, at times in both at the same time.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adelphi
Non c'è niente da dire, Adelphi è un editore di altissimo livello e tutto d'un pezzo, e "Austerlitz" lo dimostra.
Un altro romanzo mitteleuropeo, solido e freddo come il continente, che non lascia niente alla leggerezza mache una volta terminato ti lascia arricchito.

Stiamo parlando ancora una volta dell' Olocausto, il marchio che ancora brucia sopra quelle terre, ma questa volta esploro la landa poco conosciuta delle sofferenze di chi si salvò, ma ad un prezzo troppo alto. E' un aspetto che chi
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Why the hell did I decide to read Holocaust fiction on Christmas Eve? Granted, this was a breathtaking book, but still.

Page long sentences, reflections on memory, the past, architecture, ruins, history, atrocity, etc., etc. It's really good. Don't take my word for it with this review and just read it. Although preferably in a time when you can afford to be melancholy and brooding.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
While I think I liked 'The Rings of Saturn and 'The Emigrants' slightly better, Austerlitz is still a somber, stunning meditation on memory, loss and erasure. Sebald's writing has an incredibly deft touch, other authors would just bludgeon you over the head with the horrors of European destruction, but his exploration of forgotten or overlooked spaces and marginal lives feels so much 'realer' somehow than a more traditional focus on major monolithic events and persons. I've been to several of th ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
At first sight, this book seems like an endless succession of distant observations, a long chain of purely visual descriptions by the author himself (at least if we assume the narrator is Sebald) and especially by his somewhat mysterious friend Jacques Austerlitz. I know this does not seem very attractive, and it is also strengthened by the monotonous and slow narrative style that is sustained throughout the story. I can understand that many people slam this book after a number of pages.
But at t
João Carlos
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014, 2014best, favorites
Vou começar pelo fim. O fim trágico de W. G. Sebald, escritor alemão nascido em 1944 e falecido em 14 de Dezembro de 2001, vítima de um acidente de automóvel, quando se despistou colidindo com um camião, em Norfolk, Reino Unido, onde vivia. A sua filha Anna, a outra ocupante da viatura, de apenas quatro anos sobreviveu a este dramático acidente rodoviário. Seis meses mais tarde a autópsia revela que Sebald sofrera um aneurisma cerebral como causa da sua morte.
“Austerlitz” fora publicado em 6 de
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quem: um homem à procura da sua identidade
Quando: Segunda Guerra Mundial e anos posteriores
Onde (Quem): a Europa e os lugares, onde as recordações ficaram cativas à espera que a memória as liberte
A forma: monólogo ilustrado por fotografias
O conteúdo: a Memória o Tempo

O quê: uma obra-prima!

Há mais de uma semana que ando a tentar dizer algo sobre este livro, e qualquer texto que escrevo me parece oco e tolo. Quanto mais penso, mais grandioso me parece e mais me inibe. Por isso, fica aquela "coisa"
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germanica, nonfiction
dimenticare nella casa in campagna uno dei libri più intensi che mi sia capitato di leggere ultimamente è devastante. austerlitz, cosa farai in quelle cento pagine che mi mancano?
[responso in autunno]
bentornato, austerlitz!
è un lungo viaggio- quello di jacques austerlitz, solitario professore flaneur, alla ricerca di se stesso e del proprio passato dimenticato, nascosto dietro i suoi pochi e ingannevoli ricordi. e così, pian piano, spostandosi in un'europa quasi sospesa tra ieri e oggi- ritrova
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Touted as German writer WG Sebald's masterpiece, this is the fictional account of Jacgues Austerlitz who as a young boy was sent by his parents from Czechoslovakia during the German invasion to England where he was raised by an emotionally detached Welsh minister and his wife. The story is told in retrospect by a much older Austerlitz who is now searching for the facts of his true heritage and who happens to find a very good listener in our narrator who repeats the story as told him.
I didn't mi
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Sebald published this book just months before he died and it is considered by many to be his masterpiece.

The novel itself is written as a stream of consciousness affair about remembrances sans paragraphs. Throughout the story the main character, Austerlitz, tries to make sense of the holocaust decades earlier as he travels through Belgium and Germany revisiting sites tangential to the trauma and pain of that earlier period. There are continuous episodes of memories triggered by the landscape or
Nelson Zagalo
Tinha talvez demasiadas expetativas, tinha lido algumas notas sobre o modo como Sebald trabalha as memórias, as fronteiras entre o real e o imaginado, entre a ficção e não ficção, e ao entrar em “Austerlitz”, apesar de ver tudo isso, não o senti. O discurso apesar de erudito e fluído, cria uma sessão de prisão, de repetição, sem movimento, como se nunca saísse do mesmo lugar...

[Sugiro ler o resto com imagens em:]

Reconheço que o trabalho é original, que ex
Adam Dalva
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The moments of illumination and beauty that are sprinkled throughout this book are as gorgeous as anything in writing. Sebald has cleverly constructed a plot of repression, as several filters, both stylistic and narrative, separate us from the main plot of this book, which we desperately search for: Who is Austerlitz, and what is he running from? When the truth first reveals itself, in the abandoned waiting area outside a ladies room in a soon-to-be-destroyed station, it's absolutely hair-raisin ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scelto quasi per caso, si è rivelata una lettura ostica, nella prima parte, incantevole dalla metà in poi, eccezionale il ricordo e il sapore che ne rimane. Quando ho chiuso il libro mi sono resa conto di aver letto un piccolo grande capolavoro, non so se conosciuto ai più. Avevo letto da qualche parte che Sebald è "scrittore autunnale", un po' umbratile, e in effetti è un romanzo che mi ha letteralmente spiazzato per cotanta profondità.
La storia è molto semplice e lineare: Jacques Austerlitz è
M. Sarki

I love the way Max Sebald writes. His language is rich and warm, quite sophisticated, but still accessible. I religiously claim W.G. Sebald as the master of all dream-state authorship. I have never read anyone so gifted at lulling one to sleep and slowly, unhurriedly, in some leisurely way, unsuspectingly knocking our heads off at the very same time. My problem with Austerlitz is that it just never happened for me. And this is the first time Sebald ever fa
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Irgendwann in der Vergangenheit, dachte ich, habe ich einen Fehler gemacht und bin jetzt in einem falschen Leben"

Bereits in Die Ringe des Saturn, ist mir die enge Verknüpfung in W.G. Sebalds Prosa, von Geographie und Erinnerung aufgefallen. Es sind stets Bauwerke oder Landschaften, die als Ausgangspunkt für Erkundungsgänge in die Vergangenheit der Protagonisten dienen. Auch die Geschichte des sich selbst so rätselhaften Jaques Austerlitz, entwickelt sich entlang geographischer Linien. Es ist
I was lead to believe that was the story of an individual’s odyssey throughout the darkest hour of European history, something supposedly reflective and deeply philosophical. Instead I found myself battling my way through three layers of reported speech and multiple framing devices only to find a relatively dull narrative trying so hard to be profound it ended up pretentious and preachy.

This wasn’t for me. I don’t get along with books that are all talk and no action. For the most part, I enjoye
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.”

This is a story of the holocaust. It is a specific story of one boy whose family is shattered and of his attempts to piece it back together from memories and from the objects, the cities, the
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Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald was a German writer and academic. His works are largely concerned with the themes of memory, loss of memory, and identity (both personal and collective) and decay (of civilizations, traditions or physical objects). They are, in particular, attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the G ...more
“It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, just as when we have accepted an invitation we duly arrive in a certain house at a given time.” 108 likes
“We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.” 51 likes
More quotes…