The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin

  • I thought I could detect an erotic subtext to these astrophysical models, and my conviction was growing that Stephen Hawking wasn’t writing about physics at all, but about sex – only not about squalid human intercourse, but the grandiose cosmic coitus that gave birth to matter. Surely it’s not accident that this great explosion is referred to as the ‘Big Bang’. All the most sacred mysteries of the universe are concealed in the darkness of black holes, but it’s impossible to look into a singularity because it doesn’t emit any light, like a bedroom when the lamp’s switched off…Basically, I thought, astrophysicists are nothing but voyeurs. Except that voyeurs sometimes manage to glimpse someone else’s act of love through the gap between the curtains, but physicists have been cheated by fate, and they have to imagine absolutely everything as they stare into the ink-black darkness.
  • The cause of error by living beings is that they believe it is possible to cast aside the false and attain unto the truth. But when you attain unto yourself, the false becomes true, and there is no other truth to which one need attain after that.
  • Autocephalic uroborus
  • Beauty does not belong to a woman and it is not her specific quality – it is just that at a certain time of her life her face reflects beauty, as a windowpane reflects the sun that is hidden behind the roof of the houses. And so we cannot say that a woman’s beauty faced with time – it is simply that the sun moves on and the windows of other houses begin to reflect it. But we know the sun is not in the windowpanes that we look at. It is in us.
  • One should not become attached to words. They are only required as fleeting footholds. If you attempt to carry them with you, they will drag you down into the abyss. Therefore, they should be cast off immediately.
  • ‘In this world there is nothing but dust. But when a heavenly being sees the dust, she remembers the light that makes the dust visible. While a tailless monkey only sees the dust on which the light falls. That’s why, when a heavenly being dies, she becomes light. But when a tailless monkey dies, he becomes dust.

    ‘Light, dust,’ he said, ‘so there’s something there after all! There is some kind of individual personality. You’ve definitely got one, Ginger. I’ve felt pretty strongly just recently. Or will you tell me I’m wrong?’

    ‘This personality, with all its quirks and stupidities simply dances like a doll in the clear light of my mind. And the more stupid this doll’s quirks, the clearer the light that I recognise over and over again.’

    ‘Now you’re saying ‘my mind’. But you only just said it’s not yours.’

    ‘That’s the way language works. It’s the root from which infinite human stupidity grows. And we were-creatures suffer from it too, because we’re always talking. It’s not possible to open your mouth without being wrong. So you shouldn’t haggle over words.’


[Despite the bleak overtone of a post-Soviet outlook, The Sacred Book of the Werewolf remains cheerful with a certain Nirvanic lyricism. This beautiful, tragicomical Russian satire is about the deepening loneliness of cynical souls embedded in 21st-century emptiness searching for fulfillment.

I picked up this book on the sole premise that I thoroughly enjoyed Helmet of Horror and it did not fail to please. A modern-day philosophical fairytale threaded through with quantum physics, existential nihilism and literature, this book is a treat and deserves a rereading many times over.]


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