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Conversations with Joseph Brodsky: A Poets Journey Through The Twentieth Century Paperback – January 15, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (January 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743236394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743236393
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Russian-born, Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky, who died in 1996, was as provocative as he was talented. In these conversations with Volkov, author of previous interview volumes with violinist Nathan Milstein, choreographer George Balanchine and, more controversially, with composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Brodsky evinces both talent and idiosyncrasy. Divided into chapters on important subjects in Brodsky's writing life, these lively talks, creditably translated by Schwartz, represent a dozen years of intermittent chats, up to 1992. There are some problems: a few chapters, presented as continuous dialogues, span nearly a decade, and Volkov doesn't press Brodsky on, for example, his machinations on behalf of buddies or on the gaudy crucifixes that the Jewish-born Brodsky took to wearing. Instead, Brodsky is given free rein to speak with an intensity that regularly gave his interlocutors nosebleeds. He eccentrically overrates the faded turn-of-the-century French novelist Henri de Regnier, but dismisses Nabokov. He oddly prefers Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko to Andrei Voznesensky on the grounds that the former admits to being a "big self-promotion factory." And there is no mention at all of Brodsky's friend, the great Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert. In his later years, Brodsky made an exaggerated claim to being a writer of English, a language he never mastered as memorably as Russian. Happily, this solid book of talks shows Brodsky at his conversational, and very Russian, best.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Volkov, author of St. Petersburg (1995), began his focused dialogue with Brodsky in 1978, just after the poet underwent his first open-heart surgery at age 38. In his introduction, Volkov shares his hope that this volume will serve as a "kind of Baedeker" to the late Nobel laureate's life and art (it does), then offers a rather startling portrait of Brodsky as an "animal of poetry," a lone wolf to be exact, who was not only brilliant but hypnotic and, at times, menacing. Brodsky's mind, Volkov claims, was "essentially dialogic," a statement proved true in the revelatory conversations that follow. All of their energetic discussions are of keen interest, but it is Brodsky's forthright descriptions--the first ever for public consumption--of his detention in a mental asylum, exile in the North, and expulsion from Russia that leap off the page. At one point, Volkov challenges Brodsky's matter-of-fact approach to discussing these traumas, and Brodsky retorts, "I refuse to dramatize all this!" That's because all the drama and all the fire of his experiences are found in his majestic poetry. What is preserved here is the power and complexity of the man himself. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Larry D. Peltz(ldp@microweb.com) on April 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If you wade into the book,"Conversations with Joseph Brodsky," by Solomon Volkov (Free Press, 1998,) more or less by accident, as I did, prepare for immersion in deep waters. I was only peripherally aware of Brodsky's work, his background as a major Russian Jewish writer, emigree, and later Nobel Prize winner and American Poet Laureate based on reading his short poetic volume,"Watermark," (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 1992.) Based on this work alone I should have been prepared for the depths of thinking, the force of personality, and the scholarly mind that earned him his esteemed position and global reputation as the,"Lone Wolf of Poetry." Brodsky is, if nothing else,like one of those rare gems we find originally mined from and cut to shape on Russian soil, but later ending up here in the United States, much to our cultural enrichment. Once here, in this setting of freedom, they seem to shine even more brilliantly than they ever could in their homeland. Clearly, poetry is Brodsky's realm, and yet in Volkov's meticulous rendering,(the book represents a compiliation of more than fifteen years of purposeful dialogues with Brodsky,) it is evident that Volkov uncovers the man, his life experiences, and his force of personality in a manner that perhaps Brodksy, with his grand sense of irony would appreciate, perhaps even take perverse pleasure from reading. Hearing Brodsky literally thinking out loud, as this book allows us to do, adds a deeper dimension to an understanding of his life's work, and passion. Tragically, Brodsky suffered an untimely death by heart attack Jan. 28,1996 at the age of fifty-five.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Heather Lowe on August 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Solomon Volkov had a very good idea in putting together this book. Over a period of many years, he sat down with Brodsky and interviewed him about poetry, metaphysics and world events (with a little gossip thrown in for good measure). The result is a thorough and fascinating look at Brodsky's opinions at many different points in time. And the conversations are not just
one-sided: Volkov keeps up with Brodsky just fine, so it's like listening in on a tete-a-tete between two brilliant minds. If you like Brodsky you will love this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a primer on 20th century Russian poets.
It is lively and interesting and must have for poets in
the know.

This vendor gets a big thumbs up from me. prompt
arrival and the book was in excellent condition.
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Conversations with Joseph Brodsky: A Poets Journey Through The Twentieth Century
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