Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life

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9780300141191: Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life

The work of Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996), one of Russia’s great modern poets, has been the subject of much study and debate. His life, too, is the stuff of legend, from his survival of the siege of Leningrad in early childhood 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 life and work are illuminated by his great friend, the late poet and literary scholar Lev Loseff. Drawing on a wide range of source materials, some previously unpublished, and extensive interviews with writers and critics, Loseff carefully reconstructs Brodsky’s personal history while offering deft and sensitive commentary on the philosophical, religious, and mythological sources that influenced the poet’s work. Published to great acclaim in Russia and now available in English for the first time, this is literary biography of the first order, and sets the groundwork for any books on Brodsky that might follow.

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About the Author:

Lev Loseff was professor of Russian and chair of the Russian language and literature department at Dartmouth College. He published eight collections of verse and fiction in Russian, as well as numerous works of criticism. Jane Ann Miller is a Russian-English interpreter and translator. Her previous translations include works by Joseph Brodsky, Yuz Aleshkovsky, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, and Yegor Gaidar.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Distinguished literary scholar Loseff declares, “There were a number of reasons for me not to write this book.” The most obvious being the fact that he and Joseph Brodsky (1940–96) were close friends. But, of course, that very intimacy makes for a uniquely knowledgeable and elucidative biography. Like Brodsky, Loseff (1937–2009) was a Russian poet who came to America in the 1970s, albeit without suffering persecution and exile as did the revered Nobel laureate. With dramatic on-the-scene documentation, Loseff tells the complete story of Brodsky’s now legendary arrest in 1964 for “parasitism,” his travesty of a trial, and his exile to a remote village. Brodsky became an international cause célèbre, only to be abruptly ejected from the USSR eight difficult years later. Loseff chronicles pivotal chapters in Brodsky’s thoroughly literary life, but he concentrates most zealously on Brodsky’s writing and philosophy, irony and gratitude. He traces Brodsky’s influences from Akhmatova to Orwell to Auden, performs exhilarating close readings of Brodsky’s complex and powerful poetry and exquisite essays, and delineates the formidable challenge of translating his Russian prosody into English. Loseff’s commanding portrait reasserts Brodsky’s standing as an artistic genius of rectitude who called for justice, sought “inner freedom,” and became a “true citizen of the world” and poet for all. --Donna Seaman

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Loseff, Lev
Editore: Yale University Press (2011)
ISBN 10: 030014119X ISBN 13: 9780300141191
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