The Sea Flows On

I had the audacity to quote Mikhail Sholokhov after the title page in the dissertation for my MSc, and a friend commented that it was a slightly pompous thing to do (I may have also quoted Tolstoy).  I chuckled and agreed, but his quote was perfect for the work that the dissertation contained, on how people and individuals had moved around the landscape of Central Europe many thousands of years ago.  But it also spoke to me on a deeper level, about how life can take its many different paths through convoluted routes, some of which are seen coming from far ahead in the distance and are welcomed, whilst others can land with a thump, unseen and unwanted.  Yes, the trials and tribulations of Gregor and the Melekhov family will live long in my memory, as will the beauty of Sholokhov’s prose…

When swept out of its normal channel, life scatters into innumerable streams. It is difficult to foresee which it will take in its treacherous and winding course. Where today it flows in shallows, like a rivulet over sandbanks, so shallow that the shoals are visible, tomorrow it will flow richly and fully.’

Quoted from ‘And Quiet Flows the Don’ (1934),

by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov.

The Tolstoy quote, from Anna Karenina, was not nearly as lyrical, but did reflect an ounce of truth that I felt on the completion of the dissertation (‘I am afraid I am becoming ridiculous’‘)…


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