Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life by Lev Loseff

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By Lev Loseff

The paintings of Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996), one in every of Russia’s nice smooth poets, has been the topic of a lot examine and debate. His lifestyles, too, is the stuff of legend, from his survival of the siege of Leningrad in early early life to his expulsion from the Soviet Union and his achievements as a Nobel Prize winner and America’s poet laureate.

In this penetrating biography, Brodsky’s lifestyles and paintings are illuminated by means of his nice buddy, the overdue poet and literary student Lev Loseff. Drawing on a variety of resource fabrics, a few formerly unpublished, and large interviews with writers and critics, Loseff conscientiously reconstructs Brodsky’s own heritage whereas providing deft and delicate remark at the philosophical, spiritual, and mythological assets that prompted the poet’s paintings. released to nice acclaim in Russia and now to be had in English for the 1st time, this can be literary biography of the 1st order, and units the foundation for any books on Brodsky that would follow.

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I think I’m making the right decision. This sounds both stupid and pompous. But that’s because I’m simplifying the issue. I want you to understand me. What I’m doing now is searching. 11 social s tatus Recalling these expeditions (the exhaustion, the dirt, the “monstrous swarms of mosquitoes”), Brodsky also speaks about his younger self: “At that age you take everything in, you absorb it with tremendous greed and tremendous intensity. ”12 One companion on the Yakutia trek, geologist Eduard Blumshtein, recalls: “In the field, Iosif was one of us; that is, he understood his job, his responsibilities as a collector or geologist’s assistant.

Re al educ ation 19 But while Brodsky left school as soon as he legally could, he still yearned for some sort of formal education. 50 The eventual breadth and depth of his knowledge, however, was ultimately due to his own tireless efforts to educate himself. As a young man, he taught himself English and Polish; later he would learn to read Latin, Italian, and French. Toward the end of his life he began studying Chinese. Together with some of his friends at the university, he studied Otto Jespersen’s classic introduction to linguistics, The Philosophy of Grammar; he read European and Hindu philosophy on his own.

His close friend Andrey Sergeev, himself a poet and translator, writes that “Iosif just seemed to breathe it all in. He would gulp down every new piece of information and then put it to use in his poetry. ”51 What betrays Brodsky’s lack of systematic education has less to do with any gaps in his knowledge (he could always fill those in) than with his undisciplined way of thinking. That is, he was never taught formal logic, and he lacked the skills that come with it. For him, “to think” was to construct a chain of syllogisms—but without testing, either empirically or analytically, the individual links.

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