I wanted to quote a particularly good example of the way quotations are used in Russia from the Boyle/Gerhart book I wrote about here; I was googling for an English translation of the Pushkin poem cited when I discovered that this section happens to be included in a webpage of sample passages from the book (scroll down, it’s the second one). So I’ll let you read the poem there (the lines in italics in the Russian are ones that are particularly often quoted on their own), and I’ll just quote the jokes based on it here (the Russian is on the linked page):
“Why do you have Pushkin’s portrait on the wall in the KGB office? Why not Dzerzhinsky’s [founder of the KGB]?”
“Because he was the first to say ‘Strangle the noble impulses!’ [= ‘The soul’s noble impulses’].”
This quotation has to be pronounced with the intonation of an imperative. The punchline is based on the coincidence between the Genitive of душа (‘soul’) and the imperative of the verb душить (‘strangle, repress’), which is of course lost in translation. Another joke of the perestroika period shows people’s bewilderment and mistrust of the entire concept of glasnost:
Comrade, trust me: the era of Gorbachev’s glasnost will pass,
and the KGB will remember our names.
By the way, speaking of Russian literature, I found the interesting link Что читать? (‘What to read?’; Ищем советы, что почитать ‘We’re looking for suggestions about what to read’) in a comment at Lizok’s Bookshelf; it looks like a useful source of book descriptions.