Top 100 Svetlana Alexievich Quotes

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“Reality has always attracted me like a magnet; it tortured and hypnotized me. I wanted to capture it on paper.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Nobody thought the Soviet Union would collapse; it was a shock for everyone.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Love is what brings us into this world.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Hatred will always give birth to more and more hate, and love has the power to demolish the borders between us.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I want to live at home. You can only write at home.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Many times, I have been shocked and frightened by human beings. I have experienced delight and revulsion. I have sometimes wanted to forget what I heard, to return to a time when I lived in ignorance. More than once, however, I have seen the sublime in people and wanted to cry.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Freedom is not an instantaneous holiday, as we once dreamed. It is a road. A long road. We know this now.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I don’t remember men in our village after World War II: during the war, one out of four Belarusians perished, either fighting at the front or with the partisans. After the war, we children lived in a world of women. What I remember most is that women talked about love, not death.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I used to live in a village, and I always loved listening to old people. Unfortunately, it was always women who were talking, because after the war, very few men were around. I spent my entire life living in the village. The village is always talking about itself; people are talking to each other as the village makes sense of itself.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I don’t want to be like other authors and say that there are only a few story lines in literature. A story is like a human face. We have as many stories as human faces. You might have similar facial features, but they’re all a little different.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“The subjects I wanted to write about – the mystery of the human soul, evil – didn’t interest newspapers, and news reporting bored me.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Real people speak in my books about the main events of the age, such as the war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the downfall of a great empire.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“We were romantics in the 1990s and thought that communism was dead. But 10 years passed, and Putin came, and it became obvious that the process is reversible; that communism will, to varying degrees, return again and again.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“America is a remarkable country, but I have a feeling that it’s a different country after 9/11.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“We need a philosophy for humans and nature to live together.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“All our lives, we fight for certain ideals, and they get diluted, and then we have to fight for them again.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Lukashenko is very much like Trump, because democracy and Trump are incompatible things.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“What I’m concerned with is what I would call the missing history – the invisible imprint of our stay on Earth and in time.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“My father was an important person, the director of the school. He could talk to anybody – simple or educated. He liked chess, fishing, and beautiful women.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I grew up in the countryside.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Flaubert called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear. When I walk down the street and catch words, phrases, and exclamations, I always think – how many novels disappear without a trace! Disappear into darkness.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Art is always kind of snooping and listening in.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I don’t think we should be deceived that art is such a moral thing.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“There are many oral historians in America, but my books are made using the rules of novel writing. I have a beginning, a plot, characters.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’ve known since I was five that I wanted to be a writer.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I am a writer who happens to use some tools of journalism.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“When people talk, it matters how they place words next to each other.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“A totalitarian power is mainly busy in keeping itself alive.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I collect the everyday life of feelings, thoughts, and words. I collect the life of my time.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’ve been searching for a genre that would be most adequate to my vision of the world to convey how my ear hears and my eyes see life. I tried this and that, and finally, I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves. But I don’t just record a dry history of events and facts; I’m writing a history of human feelings.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I love the good Russian world, the humanitarian Russian world, but I do not love the Russian world of Beria, Stalin, and Shoigu.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“For money, I can buy one thing: I buy freedom.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“My wish is to humanize history.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“’Women’s’ war has its own colors, its own smells, its own lighting, and its own range of feelings. There are no heroes and incredible feats; there are simply people who are busy doing inhumanly human things.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“It’s very important to listen when someone is speaking up. I always keep my ear to the ground.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Hatred, I think, is an organism that penetrates our skin in a mythic fashion and does not leave.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I write my books at moments of shock. I meet people in extremis and their stories are highly emotionally charged.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“There is no need to give in to the compromise that totalitarian regimes always count on.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“My Ukrainian grandmother would tell amazing stories. She lost her father, and as children, we would always listen to her stories.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“A man without a memory is only capable of doing evil, nothing else but evil.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I can’t rid myself of the feeling that war is a product of the male nature.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Showing just the dark side doesn’t always work. The important thing is to show what we can learn from dark things, what good we find there.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“What you have to remember about Belarus is that it’s a small state – it has a population of less than 10m people – and like many small states, it has to be very careful about its relationships.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“People always speak beautifully when they are in love or close to death.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Humans have occupied a position in nature that they should not. It is impossible for humans to conquer nature.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Being in the public eye is easy for me because I come from a family of four generations of teachers, so I’m used to being around books and discussions. But to write, I very much need to be alone.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“What is life about? Two things: love and death.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“In the post-Soviet era, instead of freedom, various stripes of autocratic-totalitarianism have flourished: Russian, Belarusian, Kazakh… We are finding our way out from under the debris of the ‘Red Empire’ slowly and tentatively.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Putin has mobilized and gathered the desires of millions upon millions of people who have been lied to, cheated, who lost out in the new order of things – and in each of these people is a bit of Putin. They have come together to make the image we know as Putin. Putin himself is just the tip of an iceberg.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Ten to 15 of my childhood friends from Minsk died of cancer. Chernobyl kills.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I love the lone human voice. It is my greatest love and passion.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I always aim to understand how much humanity is contained in each human being and how I can protect this humanity in a person.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I see the world as voices, as colors, as it were. From book to book, I change, the subjects change, but the narrative thread remains the same.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“The purpose of art is to accumulate the human within the human being.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Why do I write? I have been called a writer of catastrophes, but that isn’t true. I am always looking for words of love. Hate will not save us. Only love.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I grew up in a village after the war, and in the village, there were almost only women.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I do not remember any questions in my childhood other than questions about death and about loss, and it was clear that the books that filled the house were not as interesting as the conversations outside.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Stalin’s machine can be started up again at only a moment’s notice: the same informers, the same denunciations, the same tortures. The same universal, all-devouring terror.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I have three homes: my Belarusian land, the homeland of my father, where I have lived my whole life; Ukraine, the homeland of my mother, where I was born; and Russia’s great culture, without which I cannot imagine myself. All are very dear to me.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’m interested in little people. ‘The little, great people’ is how I would put it, because suffering expands people.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I have collected the history of ‘domestic,’ ‘indoor’ socialism, bit by bit. The history of how it played out in the human soul. I am drawn to that small space called a human being… a single individual. In reality, that is where everything happens.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“We thought we’d leave communism behind, and everything would turn out fine. But it turns out you can’t leave this and become free, because these people don’t understand what freedom is.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“From the point of view of art, the butcher and the victim are equal as people. You need to see the people.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I was born in a big city – Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine – but when I was a child, my father moved us back to his homeland in Minsk.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I couldn’t get published for three years. Then the times changed: glasnost, perestroika. So, for three years, I wasn’t allowed to publish ‘The Unwomanly Face of War,’ but then it changed.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Women tell things in more interesting ways. They live with more feeling. They observe themselves and their lives. Men are more impressed with action. For them, the sequence of events is more important.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Putin is not a politician. Putin is a KGB agent. And whatever he does is provocations, which KGB is usually involved in.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I don’t hate. I love the Russian people. I love the Belarusan people… I love Ukraine very much.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“In the West, people demonize Putin. They do not understand that there is a collective Putin, consisting of some millions of people who do not want to be humiliated by the West. There is a little piece of Putin in everyone.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’m interested in the history of the soul: the everyday life of the soul, the things that the big picture of history usually omits – or disdains.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I take a very long time to write my books – from five to ten years.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“All of history misses out on the history of the soul. Human passions are so often not included in history.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I name the genre that I write in as ‘novel of voices.’”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I have always grappled with the fact that the truth cannot be packaged into one soul or one mind alone. It is something fragmented: there is so much to it; the truth is varied and scattered across the world.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“There are horrible periods in which entire nations sink into the plague of darkness and hatred.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“We are all prisoners of the ideas of the times we live in.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Communism has not died. We naively thought in the ’90s we had buried communism, but this is not true. It is not dead, and it will be coming back.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Belarus is a closed, authoritarian system, and the theme of Chernobyl is also a closed topic.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“To be in conflict with the authorities is one thing. We Russian writers have got used to that. But to be in conflict with your own people – that is truly terrible.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“There is this tradition, stretching back to Tacitus and Plutarch, that history belongs to the heroes, the emperors. But I grew up among simple people, and their stories just shattered me. It was painful that no one but me was listening to them.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I love to sit on my own and think, not to be photographed all the time.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’m not a public person.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I was always meant to study the humanities; I was no good at math or sciences. When it came time for me to work, it was Soviet times, and journalism wasn’t that free or interesting of a space. There was a lot of censorship; it was difficult.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“You might say that my work is just simply lying on the ground, and I go and I gather it, and I pick it up, and I put it together.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“In apartments and cottages, on the street and in the train… I listen… More and more, I turn into one large ear, always turning to another person.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Nothing, not even human life, is more precious to us than our myths about ourselves.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I love how humans talk.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“No book about Soviet sacrifice was as strong as the women’s stories I heard as a child.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“For me, people are like the black boxes found in the debris of airplane crashes.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“My writing is not just all facts and voices. I strive to create a text that works as a sign, pointing out undercurrents that lie beneath the facts.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Every one of his characters has their own idea, their own thing they want to express. Dostoevsky just lets them do it.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I don’t love great ideas. I love the little human being.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“We, people of socialism, are not like others. We have our peculiar ideas about heroes and martyrs.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Women are the most denigrated social group in the Soviet Union. The idea of women’s emancipation is only a slogan in – but also, I should say, in many places outside – the Soviet Union. But especially in the militaristic Soviet society, people only thought of life in terms of struggle and the workers’ toil.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I’m interested in love and in death. Everything evolves from these things.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“The books that I’m writing, you can write them only when you’re amongst your people. You’re not going to find it on the Internet. You’re not going to hear it there.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I believe that in the 21st century, we should arm ourselves with ideas.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“When I was a child, women spoke to me of how all they had was their memories, how their husbands went to war and never came back, so many tragedies. That chorus of voices filled my consciousness. It was part of life itself.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“I will never write fiction.”

― Svetlana Alexievich

“Journalists do not write about human feelings.”

― Svetlana Alexievich
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