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Nobody knew literature and history better than these people, nobody could write better Russian than they, nobody despised our times more profoundly. For these characters civilization meant more than daily bread and a nightly hug. This wasn’t, as it would seem, another lost generation. This was the only generation of Russians that had found itself, for whom Giotto and Mandelstam were more imperative than their own personal destinies. Poorly dressed yet somehow still elegant…broken, growing old, they still retained their love for the non-existent (or existing only in their balding heads) thing called ‘civilization.

Joseph Brodsky