A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles
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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190

In A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles explicates the atmosphere and attitudes endemic to the era after the Russian Revolution, which witnessed the death rattle of its aristocratic class as new economic orders replaced entrenched ones. In this fraught political time, even basic freedoms such as speech are threatened, exemplified when Alexander Rostov is summoned to a serious trial for the crime of writing a counterrevolutionary poem. Unwilling to relinquish their legacy of supremacy, the powers which essentially control the court sentence him to life in the Hotel Metropol. In this ironically luxurious form of imprisonment, Rostov seems to suffer little beyond the desire for more stimuli in his environment; rather, he inhabits his prison like it is the eye of a storm, cognizant of the sea of normalized suffering taking place outside the palace's walls.

The novel's moralistic sentiment is one of appreciating the irony of needless suffering, and doing one's best to improve one's conditions while accepting that the larger world is generally oppressive. Ultimately, the centeredness and moral discipline of the writer archetype is conceived of as the only reprieve from political turmoil out of one's control.

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