Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life (Paperback)

A Literary Life

By Lev Loseff, Jane Ann Miller (Translator)

Yale University Press, 9780300181609, 333pp.

Publication Date: February 14, 2012



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 Drawing on a wide range of source materials, some previously unpublished, and extensive interviews with writers and critics, Loseff carefully reconstructs Brodsky's personal history while offering deft and sensitive commentary on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.

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.

Praise For Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life

Praise for Joseph Brodsky: A Life (Russian edition):

“The best single literary biography of the writer yet to have appeared in any language.”—Times Literary Supplement

"…[a] warm and appreciative study."—Derek Mahon, Literary Review
-Derek Mahon

"A delightful literary biography. . . . This work is a pleasure, and it sheds light on unexpected details about the poet."—D. Hutchins, CHOICE
-D. Hutchins
-Andrei Zorin
-Jane Taubman

''Witty, urbane, engaging. . . . Lev Loseff, an important Russian poet in his own right, provides a wealth of new, important information. A magnificent contribution.”—David M. Bethea, University of Wisconsin-Madison
-David M. Bethea

"The author of Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life has accomplished the feat of discussing a poet’s work persuasively in a language other than his own, and allowed us to glimpse the unique brilliance of the originals."—Carol Rumens, The Independent
-Carol Rumens

“Joseph Brodsky: A Literary life handles the life with intelligence and tact, while its treatment of Brodsky’s art and mind will remain of permanent value.”—Andrew Kahn, Times Literary Supplement
-Andrew Kahn

“Lev Loseff’s Joseph Brodsky is partly a biography of the Nobel-Prize winning poet (though Loseff denies that biography was his intention) as well as a critical study and a memoir. It’s valuable on all three counts….Joseph Brodsky is a pleasure to read.”—Mark Jay Mirsky, Hareetz (English)
-Mark Jay Mirsky

“….indispensable….”—Stephan Delbos, The Prague Post
-Stephan Delbos

"Loseff ’s book is less the story of Brodsky’s life than an account of the growth of the poet’s mind, the kind of book that is rarely written in English now, as it falls between the monograph and biography."—Justin Quinn, Edinburgh Review
-Justin Quinn