Today, May 24, Joseph Brodsky, a St. Petersburg poet and Nobel laureate for literature, could celebrate his 83rd birthday. BURO columnist. Anna Popova has collected 10 interesting and important dates and numbers that played a role in Brodsky’s life.
“One and a half rooms” – Brodsky’s museum-apartment in St. Petersburg. In a ten-square-meter communal apartment in Muruzi’s house, Brodsky lived with his parents for 17 years. Now there is an exhibition space and a book “The end of a beautiful era”
That is what Joseph Brodsky studied in a secondary school. Despite the obvious abilities, the future Nobel laureate studied very poorly and once even stayed for the second year.
“… Stubborn, persistent, lazy. Rude. It interferes with the lessons, naughty. Written homework assignments are done very poorly, if not at all. The notebook is neglected, dirty, with inscriptions and drawings. Able. He can be an excellent student, but he doesn’t try”, this is what his teacher’s characterization looks like for the fourth grade.
Brodsky dropped out of school in the eighth grade. “And then one winter morning, for no apparent reason, I got up in the middle of the lesson and melodramatically withdrew, realizing clearly that I would not come back here again,” he recalled in the essay “Less Than One.”
Brodsky went to work as an apprentice milling machine at the Arsenal plant. Among other unexpected professions are a dissecting assistant in the regional hospital morgue and a stoker in geological games. In just seven years – 13 jobs.
Brodsky and three other poets were part of Akhmatov’s group of orphans. This is how Dmitry Bobyshev named the young poets trained by Anna Akhmatova in the 1950s and 1960s.
And, on the cross in the cemetery, a nail
the soul has seen the light: in a series of losses
Osya, Tolya, Zhenya, Dima enter
Akhmatov’s orphans lined up.
Osya is Brodsky, Tolya is Anatoly Naiman, Zhenya is Yevgeny Rein, and Dima is Bobyshev himself. In the famous “Dialogues with Joseph Brodsky” by Solomon Volkov, Brodsky compared the “orphans” with the poets of the Golden Age:
“Each of us repeated a role. Rein was Pushkin. Delvig, I think, was probably Bobyshev. Nyman, with his biting wit, was Vyazemsky. I, with my melancholy, apparently played the role of Baratynsky.
Five years of hard labor in a remote area: such a sentence was handed down to Brodsky in 1964 on charges of parasitism. In the room, among others, was the writer Frida Vigdorova, who was taking notes in a notebook. In 1988, the recording will be published in the Ogonyok magazine under the title “Judgment”. Here’s an excerpt from there:
Judge: In general, what is your specialty?
Brodsky: Poet, poet-translator.
Judge: And who admitted that you are a poet? Who placed you among the poets?
Brodsky: Nobody. (No call). And who classified me among the human race?
Judge: Did you learn this?
Brodsky: For what?
Judge: Being a poet? They didn’t try to graduate from a university where they cook… where they teach…
Brodsky: I didn’t think… I didn’t think this comes from education.
Judge: What’s up?
Brodsky: I think this… (bewildered)… of God…
The poet was transferred to the Arkhangelsk region, to the village of Norinskaya, Konoshsky district, where he was supposed to work at the Danilovsky state farm. Thanks to numerous petitions, the term of exile was reduced to one and a half years, and Brodsky returned to Leningrad. In October 1965, he was accepted into the Committee of the Translators’ Group at the Leningrad branch of the USSR Writers’ Union, which shielded him from further accusations of free riding.
Brodsky taught so much in exile at universities in the United States and Great Britain. The departure from the USSR was not voluntary: in 1972, the poet, whose poems were practically not published in the country, was strongly advised to emigrate, promising that otherwise “a very hot time will come in the very foreseeable future.”
The poet was helped to get to the USA and settled there by Karl and Ellendea Proffer, who opened the Ardis publishing house in Michigan, where books by banned Soviet authors were published. Ellendea Proffer would later write a memoir called Brodsky Among Us.
Brodsky taught literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and held professorships at Columbia University and New York University.
“Every year for twenty-four, for at least twelve weeks at a time, he would regularly appear before a group of young Americans and talk to them about what he loved most in the world: poetry… What the called course consisted of was not so important: all his lessons were lessons in slow reading of a poetic text…”, wrote his biographer Lev Losev.
Brodsky sought a meeting with his parents for more than 10 years, Henry Kissinger himself interceded for him, but due to bureaucratic delays, Brodsky and his parents never saw each other: his mother died, and shortly after his father died.
For the Immodest Proposal project, which aimed to spread poetry to ordinary Americans, Brodsky selected six poets.
“In my opinion, books should reach every porch, like electricity, like milk in England, like community services, and the price should be minimal. And in any case, poetry should be sold in pharmacies (if only because they will brighten your bill, which you are horrified by). And of course, an anthology of American poetry should be on the nightstand of every hotel room next to the Bible, which will not object to such closeness, does not complain about the closeness of the phone book, ”he wrote in his essay . .
Brodsky was ridiculed at the time, but a student named Andrew Carroll helped carry out the project. As a result, American companies have allocated half a million dollars for the distribution of poetry. By the way, Brodsky’s own poems in English came under harsh criticism, including due to a purely Russian attachment to rhyme. English poetry, if it were not about children, is not typical, the poet was accused of deception and that his poems resemble advertising slogans.
Brodsky spent a lot of time in Venice before writing one of his most famous works, the essay “Embankment of the Incurable,” now sold in almost every souvenir shop in the city, commissioned by the New Venice Consortium, for Christmas.
Despite the anonymity of the characters, the client was horrified, as he saw in the text attacks on the most influential citizens and a too free description of the beautiful Venetian, Countess Mariolina Doria de Zuliani, who was giving the poet a tour of the city. .
According to Mariolina’s memoirs, the financial problem became decisive for Brodsky: money was needed, and for a fee of 30 million Italian lire, he changed the job.
On this day, at the age of 55, Brodsky died at home of a heart attack. This date coincides with the day of Dostoevsky’s death and one day before Pushkin’s death.
In Venice, in the Protestant part of the cemetery on the island of San Michele, Brodsky’s grave is now located. This place was chosen by Brodsky’s widow, Maria Sozzani. The poet died in New York and was first buried in a crypt in the Church of the Holy Trinity on the banks of the Hudson, but then the ashes were transferred to his beloved Venice.