Enigma Variations Quotes

André Aciman
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We love only once in our lives, my father had said, sometimes too early, sometimes too late; the other times are always a touch deliberate."
-- Paul (chapter 1 paragraph 1)

Importance: Here, Paul relates his father's conception of love: spontaneous and singular. In "First Love," Paul's spontaneous love is for Nanni, an older cabinetmaker he admires. Paul claims that this spontaneous love had a lasting effect on his life, saying that Nanni made him the person he is today. However, Paul's first love for Nanni casts a shadow on the rest of the novel, which traces Paul's other romantic relationships. If a person can only love spontaneously once, all Paul's other relationships are "a touch deliberate," and therefore lesser. In this regard, Aciman introduces a tension into his novel: can love only occur once? Or can people fully love multiple people at various points in life?

The past may or may not be a foreign country...
-- Paul (chapter 4 paragraph 3)

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This section contains 2,323 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Enigma Variations Study Guide
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