Joseph Brodsky Less Than One Selected Essays

It would be tempting to say that Brodsky and Auden are the only really civilized great poets of their respective generations, and of the past few decades.Tempting, and in spite of the difficulty of saying what one means exactly, far from untrue.Brodsky was well established as a poet by the time he took up prose.

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Brodsky’s discussion of “September 1, 1939,” which appears midway in his collection of essays, is based on a class given at Columbia University, taped and transcribed by two of his students.His tone is candidly intimate, self-confident, sometimes astringent, but never self-pitying.His prose is energetic, incisive, often eloquent, occasionally grandiose.A Soviet Jewish exile since 1972, Brodsky has been poet-in-residence at several American universities, notably the University of Michigan and Columbia a generous collection of his essays on such Russian poets as Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Osip Mandelstam; the Russian prose writers Fyodor Dostoevski and Andrey Platonov; the Western poets W. Auden, Constantine Cavafy, Dante, Eugenio Montale, and Derek Walcott; the cities of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Saint Petersburg/Leningrad; and two largely autobiographical memoirs serving as opening and concluding chapters: “Less Than One” and “In a Room and a Half.” In “Less Than One,” Brodsky introduces two themes that he will weave through most of his work: his conviction that poetry is man’s supreme achievement (even a writer’s “biography is in his twists of language”), and his personal sense of estrangement, isolation, solitude (“the rest of my life can be viewed as a nonstop avoidance of its most importunate aspects”).Humor is also an involuntary aspect of personality, the motor nerve of its unconscious linkage to art.Wallace Stevens is at least as great a poet as Auden or Brodsky, but his poetry is extruded on a quite different principle, one sign of which is that one knows exactly where in it the humor begins and ends.The reason for Brodsky’s switch was in part geographical, which in modern terms has come to mean political as well; in 1972, he found himself exiled from his homeland, apparently forever.Moreover, he found himself in the United States and thus bound to earn a living in an English-speaking world.Many poets, like other writers, can be skittish, or funny, or deeply and wisely comical; and they cultivate these qualities—as Robert Frost did, say, or as Robert Lowell did—in league with their personalities and poetic will.But humor only really exists as the spirit of civilization if it is everywhere inside it, and inside the poetry that can be its expression.


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  • Less Than One Selected Essays - Wikipedia

    Less Than One Selected Essays is a collection of literary and autobiographical essays by the Russian poet and Nobel Prize-winning author Joseph was published in 1986 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and won that year's National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.…

  • Less Than One Selected Essays by Joseph Brodsky

    Brodsky's memoir-essays 'Less Than One' and 'A Room and a Half' are amazing accounts of his youthful struggle for independence and imaginative freedom in 50s and 60s Russia. He dislays Nabokov-level stoicism, humor and confidence amid tragedies that would have silenced or stupefied a being less spiritually committed to writing, less beatified.…

  • Less Than One by Joseph Brodsky – review Books The Guardian

    Less Than One by Joseph Brodsky – review If there's an essential essay collection, it's this one Nicholas Lezard. These essays, collected and published in 1986, won the National Book Critics.…

  • Less Than One Selected Essays Penguin Modern Classics.

    Buy Less Than One Selected Essays Penguin Modern Classics by Joseph Brodsky ISBN 9780141196510 from Amazon's Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders.…

  • Less Than One Selected Essays Paperback – May 1, 1987

    But his essays in the collection "Less Than One" I have almost reread a few weeks ago. I had read everything I could find by Brodsky back in the nineties and remembered this book when I saw it advertised on Amazon.…

  • Customer reviews Less Than One Selected Essays

    Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Less Than One Selected Essays at Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users.…

  • Less Than One Selected Essays - Google Books

    Less than one selected essays User Review - Not Available - Book Verdict. Brodsky, a brilliant poet and sensitive translator, is also a stunning essayist. His first volume of essays not only evinces a supple, witty mastery of the English language, but provides deeply. Read full review…

  • Less Than One - Selected Essays, by Joseph Brodsky - Shelf

    Nonetheless, Brodsky acclimated himself to the language of his new home well enough that he also became an accomplished poet in English, serving as the Poet Laureate of the United States in 19. But the topic of my discussion today is not Brodsky's poetry, rather it is his collection of essays, Less Than One 1986.…

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