On Grief and Reason Essays

Joseph Brodsky

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374525099

9780374525095

Trade Paperback

504 Pages

$35.00

CAD40.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
This highly regarded second volume of Brodsky's prose includes, in addition to his Nobel lecture, essays on the condition of exile, the nature of history, the art of reading, and the idea of the poet as an inveterate Don Giovanni. We also encounter an homage to Marcus Aurelius and an appraisal of the case of the double agent Kim Philby, both of which were selected for inclusion in the annual Best American Essays volume.

The title essay is Brodsky's celebrated study of the poetry of Robert Frost, and the book also features a fond appreciation of Thomas Hardy, a "Letter to Horace," a close reading of Rilke's poem "Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes," and a memoir of Stephen Spender. Among the other pieces are Mr. Brodsky's open letter to Czech President Vaclav Havel and his "Immodest Proposal" for the future of poetry, an address he delivered while serving as U.S. Poet Laureate.

In his Nobel lecture, Brodsky declares that "verse really does, in Akhmatova's words, 'grow from rubbish'; the roots of prose are no more honorable"—but the flowering of Brodsky's own prose in these fine essays gives us both thought and language at their noblest.

REVIEWS

Praise for On Grief and Reason

"In On Grief and Reason, the same sort of toughness that led the outcast in Russia to become the poet laureate in America manifests itself more generally: the enormous expense of effort needed to become bilingual reveals itself as just an instance of Brodsky's overall way of taking any risk that, in his eyes, was necessary to say what he had to say . . . From his vision of poetry's tasks to his compassion for human suffering, everything that Brodsky's mind produced bore the indelible mark of a life lived through, not beside or around, its unprecedentedly difficult time."—Stanislaw Baranczak, The New Republic

"On Grief and Reason [is] a magisterial volume of essays to which Brodsky had put the finishing touches shortly before his death. But no, 'magisterial' is too settled and august a word for what Brodsky had ventured. Though he was laden with all of the public honors, the Nobel Prize among them, the writer remained vital and volatile in the best ways. And the reviewer, while mourning the death of the man—and friend—cannot greet the freshness of these 21 essays with a past tense verb form."—Sven Birkerts, The Boston Sunday Globe

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Joseph Brodsky (1940-96) came to the United States in 1972, an involuntary exile from the Soviet Union. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987 and served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991 and 1992.
Read the full excerpt
BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Joseph Brodsky

  • Joseph Brodsky (1940-96) came to the United States in 1972, an involuntary exile from the Soviet Union. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987 and served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991 and 1992.
  • Joseph Brodsky Copyright Nancy Crampton
BACK