The Lost Quotes

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The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
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The Lost Quotes Showing 1-16 of 16
“Closeness can lead to emotions other than love. It's the ones who have been too intimate with you, lived in too close quarters, seen too much of your pain or envy or, perhaps more than anything, your shame, who, at the crucial moment, can be too easy to cut out, to exile, to expel, to kill off.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“As ingenious as this explanation is, it seems to me to miss entirely the emotional significance of the text- its beautiful and beautifully economical evocation of certain difficult feelings that most ordinary people, at least, are all too familiar with: searing regret for the past we must abandon, tragic longing for what must be left behind. (...) Still, perhaps that's the pagan, the Hellenist in me talking. (Rabbi Friedman, by contrast, cannot bring himself even to contemplate that what the people of Sodom intend to do to the two male angels, as they crowd around Lot's house at the beginning of the narrative, is to rape them, and interpretation blandly accepted by Rashi, who blithely points out thta if the Sodomites hadn't wanted sexual pleasure from the angels, Lot wouldn't have suggested, as he rather startingly does, that the Sodomites take his two daughter as subsitutes. But then, Rashi was French.)

It is this temperamental failure to understand Sodom in its own context, as an ancient metropolis of the Near East, as a site of sophisticated, even decadent delights and hyper-civilized beauties, that results in the commentator's inability to see the true meaning of the two crucial elements of this story: the angel's command to Lot's family not to turn and look back at the city they are fleeing, and the transformation of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt. For if you see Sodom as beautiful -which it will seem to be all the more so, no doubt, for having to be abandoned and lost forever, precisely the way in which, say, relatives who are dead are always somehow more beautiful and good than those who still live- then it seems clear that Lot and his family are commanded not to look back at it not as a punishment, but for a practical reason: because regret for what we have lost, for the pasts we have to abandon, often poisons any attempts to make a new life, which is what Lot and his family now must do, as Noah and his family once had to do, as indeed all those who survive awful annihilations must somehow do. This explanation, in turn, helps explain the form that the punishment of Lot's wife took- if indeed it was a punishment to begin with, which I personally do not believe it was, since to me it seems far more like a natural process, the inevitable outcome of her character. For those who are compelled by their natures always to be looking back at what has been, rather than forward into the future, the great danger is tears, the unstoppable weeping that the Greeks, if not the author of Genesis, knew was not only a pain but a narcotic pleasure, too: a mournful contemplation so flawless, so crystalline, that it can, in the end, immobilize you.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“I did and do believe, after all that I've seen and done, that if you project yourself into the mass of things, if you look for things, if you search, you will, by the very act of searching, make something that would not otherwise have happened, you will find something, even something small, something that will certainly be more than if you hadn't gone looking in the first place, if you hadn't asked our grandfather anything at all...There are no miracles, no magical coincidences. There is only looking and finally seeing, what was always there.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“At night, I think about these things. I'm pleased with what I know, but now I think much more about everything I could have known, which was so much more than anything I can learn now and which now is gone forever.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“...that the holocaust is so big, the scale of it is so gigantic, so enormous that it becomes easy to think of it as something mechanical. Anonymous. But everything that happened, happened because someone made a decision to pull a trigger, to flip a switch, to close a cattle door, to hide, to betray.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“...I like to see things through the lens of Greek tragedy, which teaches us, among other things, that real tragedy is never a straightforward confrontation between Good and Evil, but is rather much more exquisitely and much more agonizingly, a conflict between two irreconcilable views of the world.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“I had traveled far, had circled the planet and studied my Torah, and at the very end of my search I was standing, finally, in the place where everything begins: the tree in the garden, the tree of knowledge that, as I learned long ago, is something divided, something that because growth occurs only through the medium of time, brings both pleasure and, finally, sorrow.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“To be alive is to have a story to tell.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“There are many ways to lose your relatives, I thought; war is only one of them.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“real tragedy is never a straightforward confrontation between Good and Evil, but is, rather, much more exquisitely and much more agonizingly, a conflict between two irreconcilable views of the world.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million
“To be alive today is to have a story to tell. To be alive is precisely to be the hero, the center of a life story. When you can be nothing more than a minor character in somebody else's tale, it means that you are truly dead.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“sunt lacrimae rerum, “There are tears in things.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million
“And so the picture that I showed her that Sunday, a picture I'd seen countless times since I was a boy, brought home to me for the first time the strangeness of my relationship to the people I was interviewing, people who were rich in memories but poor in keepsakes, whereas I was so rich in the keepsakes but had no memories to go with them.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“the Holocaust wasn’t something that simply happened, but is an event that’s still happening.)”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million
“Something in her had been broken... The ones who were killed were not the only ones who'd been lost.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
“Essere vivi significa avere qualcosa da raccontare. Vuol dire essere l'eroe, il protagonista di una vicenda. Quando si diventa un personaggio marginale nella narrazione di qualcun altro, allora si è davvero morti.”
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million