„In response to a plea in early 1941 from his colleague and friend, the writer Marietta Shaginyan, who was newly infatuated with the Piano Quintet and its creator, Mickhail Zoshchenko drafted for her a portrait of the Shostakovich he knew, a deeply complex individual:
"It seemed to you that he is “frail, fragile, withdrawn, an infinitely direct, pure child.” That is so. But if it were only so, then great art (as with him) would never be obtained. He is exactly what you say he is, plus something else — he is hard, acid, extremely intelligent, strong perhaps, despotic and not altogether good-natured (although cerebrally good-natured).
That is the combination in which he must be seen. And then it may be possible to understand his art to some degree.
In him, there are great contradictions. In him, one quality obliterates the other. It is conflict in the highest degree. It is almost a catastrophe."
Quoted in Laurel Fay: Shostakovich, a Life.“