Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) is the only Russian poet who has been taken seriously by Russian leaders: Khrushchev sent him to the Gulag (1964), Brezhnev exiled him (1972), Gorbachev paid him a visit in the Library of Congress (1992), and Chermyrdin demanded that his body be returned to Russia (1996). He is the most important poet Russia has produced in the second part of the twentieth century. Nobody after Pushkin has done as much as Brodsky for Russian poetry, introducing many features of English and American poetics, a new linguistic substratum to Russian poetry, new genres, and a new mentality. He replaced the hot-blooded, hysterical te of Russian poetry with a rational approach to the most profound problems of our time. His tragic perception of the world combines with skilfully camouflaged irony, self-deprecation, and technical virtuosity.Professor Emeritus of Russian Literature Valentina Polukhina, who knew Brodsky well over a long period, has been studying and writing about him for at least 30 years. Her second volume of interviews draws on eye-witness accounts of his friends, publishers, editors, translators, and fellow poets. It is a series of important discussions on the style, ideas, and personality of one of the most brilliant and paradoxical poets of our time. Subtle, incisive, and rigorous in its critical evaluation, each discussion significantly advances our understanding of Brodsky's complex poetic world. All discussions are linked by core questions that are carefully and sometimes provocatively formulated. This collection of 40 interviews illuminates a peculiarly intriguing contemporary phemen and affords a fascinating insight into the American literary scene.
Valentina Polukhina was born in Siberia and educated at Kemerovo, Tula and Moscow universities. From 1962 to 1973 she taught at Moscow's Lumumba University and from 1973 till 2001 was Professor at Keele University, England. She specializes in modern Russian poetry and is well known to the international community of literary scholars as a specialist on Joseph Brodsky. She is the author of several major studies of Brodsky: Joseph Brodsky: A Poet for Our Time (Cambridge: CUP, 1989), Brodsky Through the Eyes of his Contemporaries, vol. I (New York, London: St Martin's Press, 1992); a Russian version Brodskii glazami sovremennikov (vol. I, 1997, 2006) and A Dictionary of Brodsky's Tropes (based on A Part of Speech, Tartu University Press, 1995). She is editor of a collection of Brodsky's interviews - A Large Book of Interviews ( Bol'shaya kniga intervyu ) (M: Zakharov, 2000, 2005 and 2007), with Lev Loseff, of Brodsky's Poetics and Aesthetics (L: Macmillan Press, 1990) and Joseph Brodsky: The Art of a Poem (L., 1999, M., 2002), with A. Stepanov and I. Fomenko, of Brodsky's Poetics ( Poetika Brodskogo ), (Tver, 2003), with A. Korchinsky - Joseph Brodsky: A strategy for reading ( Iosif Brodkii: Strategiya chteniya ), (M., 2005). Among her articles there are essays on Akhmatova, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Khlebnikov, Mandelshtam, Lev Loseff, Tatiana Shcherbina, etc. She had edited bilingual collections of Olga Sedakova (1994), Oleg Prokofiev (1995), Dmitry Prigov (1995), Evgeny Rein (2001). Together with Daniel Weissbort she has assembled a special issue of the journal MPT (2002), a revised version being published as An Anthology of Russian Women Poets (2005) in the UK and USA (Carcanet, University of Iowa Press). A second volume of Brodsky Through the Eyes of his Contemporaries was republished in Russian in St Petersburg (Spb.: Zvezda, 2006). Polukhina has completed Iosif Brodskii: Zhizn', trudy, epokha (A Chronology of Brodsky's Life and Works), which will be published in 2008. Another dimension of her activity is bringing Russian literature to an English audience. She organized the visits of over 60 Russian writers and poets to Keele and other British universities. The post of Russian poet-in-residence at the University of Keele as well as the Russian Poets Fund were established thanks to her efforts.