A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

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Where does the character in A Gentleman in Moscow discuss the use of religion?

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The very first paragraph of Amor Towles's novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, contains a description of St. Basil's Cathedral, which is located in Red Square. The book's main character, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, is being conducted by guards. He observes the beauty of the cathedral and of the weather as he passes. The narrator observes that

The sky was the very blue that the cupolas of St. Basil's had been painted for. Their pinks, greens, and golds shimmered as if it were the sole purpose of a religion to cheer its Divinity.

In this passage, religion appears as an aesthetic spectacle that brings delight to a divine spectator, rather than something that benefits human beings. Later in the book, it is mentioned that the Count's grandmother cannot bear the discussion of religion (or of politics or personal sorrows) at her dinner table. Here, too, religion, is something remote from human life.

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