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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Watermark Paperback – June 1, 1993


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Watermark + Less Than One: Selected Essays + Collected Poems in English
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374523827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374523824
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As much a brooding self-portrait as a lyric description of Venice, poet Brodsky's quirky, impressionistic essay describes his 17-year romance with a city of dreamlike beauty that banishes nightmares. Praising Venice and its architecture as a triumph of the visual, the Nobel laureate uses his visits there as a touchstone to meditate on life's unpredictability, the appetite for beauty, death, myth and modern art "whose poverty alone makes it prophetic." Waxing confessional, he declares, "I am not a moral man. . . . I am but a nervous man . . . but I am observant" and offers autobiographical asides about his youthful lust for an Italian communist scholar and a 1977 meeting in Venice with Susan Sontag. In his wayward forays amid canals, streets and cathedrals barnacled with saints, the eternal Venice shimmers through the fog, battered yet resplendent.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Nobel laureate's latest book is a paean to Venice, "itself a work of art," which has welcomed him for 17 winters of reflection and discovery. Brodsky views his adopted city not as a tourist but with the keen eye of a poet, finding beauty (a recurring theme) in the juxtaposition of lacy Venetian facades with "the anarchy of water." After this, he writes, "Everything is a letdown." Moving lightly in its imagery from a string of pearls to the Milky Way, Watermark pays tribute in language worthy of this great city. Its irresistible style and grace combine to express a dream that afterward lingers like a treasured memory. Very highly recommended.
- Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
WATERMARK is an apt title for this splendid collection of thoughts and fugues on the city of Venice, a place where Brodsky returned yearly for seventeen years and where in the solitude of the winter months in this most desirable of tourist destinations he composed some of his best poetry and translations. Brodsky's title refers to the repeated traces (watermarks) the sea makes on the canals and decaying buildings of Venice, like pages from a book of history or of poetry, or a novel. He writes extended soliloquies about the surfaces of the water in the canals and in the surrrounding sea that softly and surely continues to submerge Venice. He also writes colloquies of conversations with Ezra Pound's widow and the subsequent memories and opinions of that controversial figure. His rambling discourses while strolling the narrow streets that follow the canals inevitably to the sea are rich in observation and philosophy. His love for Venice is always palpable. '...the whole city, especially at night, resembles a gigantic orchestra, with dimly lit music stands of palazzi, with a restless chorus of waves, with the falsetto of a star in the winter sky. The music is, of course, greater than the band, and no hand can turn the page.'
Joseph Brodsky is at his finest in much of this small volume. For those who love Venice by association or by dreams of history and the music of Vivaldi, Bellini, and the art of Tiepolo or Titian, this collection of reveries is a must. Elegant, charming, stimulating, and nostalgic.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1996
Format: Paperback
Brodsky writes of his memories of seventeen winters in Venice. He has captured the shimmering essence of the Serene Republic in a series of short essays. His focus, as that of the city, is on the water and its reflective capacity. The water and city mirror an inner process for Brodsky and many others who visit. He explores the theme of light upon water from many perspectives, ultimately acknowledging the mystery of both the city, the water and the attachment formed. These memories, fragmented as light on water, will bring any traveler back to the beauty and wonder of Venezia
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By marzipan on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
For any reader who wants to recreate the mesmerizing effect of walking the watery streets of Venice, reading this book will do it. As you enter Brodsky's very personal meditation on the ancient city that has enchanted so many for so long, his thoughts become your own, and all at once you are there. Dipping into the pages of this book is an armchair traveler's paradise.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
A remarkable synthesis of poetry and prose. His style reveals impressions rather than what he has seen. The best comparison that I can think of is a dream that you remember vividly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on November 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Brodsky is coyly, conciously self-indulgent here, by publishing thoughts about his favorite little city ... maybe everyone's favorite little city. Some of these essays are like shrugs: "this is how i feel, this is what it may mean. who knows?" Some are far more ardent, on the verge of revelation. Brodsky's humor, and casual seriousness, make this tiny book a real pleasure to hang out with.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Suraev on September 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Somehow it's OK to smirk when Tiziano Scarpa gets carried away by his enthusiasm for his native city, to have a sober view of Jan Morris' "purple prose" or even call Peter Ackroyd's book on Venice a rather unnecessary addition to the shelf. But I've seen even the polite and timid critics of Brodsky's "Watermark" getting the retorts like "Brodsky is a Nobel Prize-certified genius and who you are (to dare to dislike his work)?" The only publicly approved reaction to the book should contain phrases like " a work of lucidity and talent", "beautifully evocative prose from a literary genius", "a tribute to La Serenissima from one of her worthiest visitors".

Well...the book is a drivel. The author comes across as a distinctly unpleasant person but the geniuses are not required to have a pleasant character - as long as they compensate for their lack of social graces with an output of extraordinary level. Sadly, that's not the case here - the "inspired and poetic' parts are embarrassingly banal and clichéd, when Brodsky starts some kind of freestyling with metaphors it sounds like a lame and pretentious blubbering, one can read his "gems of insight" one by one and just shrug at their obvious lack of saving grace.

Writing in English was Brodsky's folly disapproved of even by his friends and remarked upon acidly by these who were less fond of him. About his friends Susan Sontag says - They were surprised and embarrassed by his constantly claiming that he had mastered English as a poet. - Less sympathetic critics (like Craig Raine and Christopher Reid) were more vocal in their contempt for his second language forays.

You can get an idea of Brodsky's command and feeling of English reading quips like "they don't so much help you as kelp you.
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