Friends of Joseph Brodsky are confident that his work will survive the centuries and hope to open a museum
ST. PETERSBURG –
The 25th anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Joseph Brodsky in St. Petersburg did not pass very noticeably. Actually, there were no reasons for a loud celebration. The foundation of the poet’s museum is still unable to resolve the issue with the last room in the apartment where he lived until his departure for emigration..
A meeting in the St. Petersburg press-club “Green Lamp” was devoted to this problem. The members of the Foundation’s board assure that in any case, on May 24, 2015 (on the day of the 75th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel laureate), the Joseph Brodsky Museum will be open. Moreover, here, at 27 Pestel Street, known as the “House of Muruzi”, a center for the study of Russian uncensored literature of the 20th century will be created..
One of Brodsky’s close friends, the writer Yakov Gordin, notes that this center will develop “a plan to promote Brodsky’s work. There should be a library in which all research literature about Brodsky, published in Russia and around the world, will be collected. Excursions will be held both inside the museum itself and in the city center to places associated with the life and work of Brodsky. “.
In an interview with the Voice of America correspondent, Yakov Gordin emphasized the importance of literary studies: “There is such a point of view that only texts (works) should exist, and nothing else. Letters are not needed, biographies are not needed … By the way, Joseph adhered to the same point of view. Well, he had his own fears, which were partly justified. Perhaps this approach has its own reason, but it is completely unrealistic, based on human nature. Because a person, if he loves this or that writer, or poet, he wants to know as much as possible about him. And the museum will contribute to the acquisition of this knowledge “.
Members of the board of the Brodsky Museum Foundation also dream of making a virtual version of it, so that anyone with a laptop at hand could become a guest of the museum, regardless of their location..
Mikhail Milchik, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation, notes with regret that this project does not yet have any real features of embodiment. “It is impossible to do everything at once, especially since there are very few enthusiasts gathered around our Foundation. We are now completing professional work on the site of the future museum. It’s easier, but it also requires money and some effort, ”says Mikhail Milchik.
Example of Norenskaya
Participants of the meeting in the “Green Lamp” said that both local and federal authorities verbally support the idea of creating a museum of Joseph Brodsky in every possible way. For example, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Vladimir Medinsky warmly approved this idea. However, when the members of the Foundation’s board sent him an official letter with a request for effective assistance, they received a response from the minister’s reception that their appeal had been forwarded to the administration of St. Petersburg..
Therefore, the members of the Foundation are counting more on the help of enthusiasts. Those who, at their own expense, created a museum of the poet in the village of Norenskaya, Konosha district, Arkhangelsk region. In the same house where Joseph Brodsky lived for a year and a half in exile (he was convicted on an absurd charge of parasitism).
In his essay “Bow to the Shadow” Brodsky wrote about the place of his exile: “I remember sitting in a small hut, looking through a square window, the size of a porthole, at a wet, swampy road with chickens wandering along it.”.
“Brodsky’s poetry is closer to symphonies than to the stage”
Fragments from poetry, poems, excerpts from the letters of Joseph Brodsky, as well as his Nobel lecture were performed during a concert dedicated to him at the Hermitage Theater. The participants and spectators of the concert preferred to talk not about the problems associated with the museum of the great poet, but about his work. Composer Sergei Slonimsky, who knew the Nobel laureate well, presented “Intermezzo in Memory of a Genius” and the ballad “On the Death of Zhukov”, written on Brodsky’s poems.
In an interview with the Voice of America correspondent, Slonimsky recalled that he had written this ballad for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. “I really like these poems, they are sustained in the Derzhavin tradition. In addition, there is a whole musical ensemble – and flutes, and trumpets, and a drum – all this is in the poem. There is an epic march and a sad soldier’s song – a requiem for the millions of soldiers whom Marshal Zhukov had to destroy “.
Sergei Slonimsky, composer
According to the composer, “On the Death of Zhukov” is a very deep poem. And the poetry of Joseph Brodsky as a whole is closer to symphonies and oratorios than to the stage, ” Sergei Slonimsky noted, stressing that the poet generally had an extremely negative attitude towards attempts to write music for his works.
“He created a utopia around his poetry”
Bendt Yangfeldt, professor of Slavic studies from Stockholm, was the guest of honor at the Nobel Concert at the Hermitage Theater. It was he who was the editor and even the typesetter of Brodsky’s book of poems, The Fern Notes, published in Sweden. Professor Yangfeldt was also present at the ceremony to present his friend the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1987.
At the request of the Voice of America correspondent, Professor Yangfeldt commented on some excerpts from Joseph Brodsky’s Nobel lecture.
Bendt Youngfeldt, Swedish Slavic Professor
25 Year Later
At the very beginning of the lecture, the poet remarked: “It is better to be the last loser in democracy than a martyr or ruler of thoughts in despotism.” Meanwhile, in Russia it is generally accepted that deprivation and oppression are useful for real talent..
“I think that Brodsky was alien to the position according to which the place of the poet is somewhere between the authorities and the people. He always knew. That the language of poetry is more important than the language of the state. And he didn’t want to be a preacher, ”says the Slavic professor. And he recalls that a significant place in Brodsky’s Nobel lecture and in many of his essays is devoted to the role of the poetic word, which is stronger and more durable than the language of power.
Bendt Yangfeldt saw confirmation of his thesis in another quote from the Nobel lecture, the recording of which was performed at the Hermitage Theater in the author’s performance: “If art teaches something (and an artist in the first place), then it is the particulars of human existence. As the oldest – and most literal – form of private entrepreneurship, it, willingly or unwillingly, encourages in a person precisely his sense of individuality, uniqueness, separateness – turning him from a social animal into a person. Much can be shared: bread, bed, beliefs, beloved – but not a poem. “.
And here there is a clear opposition of the “private” and “individual” to such traditional Russian values as “conciliarity”, “communality”, a statist approach “and so on. According to Professor Yangfeldt, Brodsky’s philosophy should be considered only within the framework of the coordinate system he created: “He created a kind of utopia around his poetry. And when he was caught in contradictions within his own concept, he always worried “.
A guest from Stockholm recalled that Brodsky has an assertion that a person who reads good literature or listens to good music cannot be a dictator. “And we know that even a highly educated ruler can become a tyrant,” continues Bendt Youngfeldt. – Joseph said that he had something else in mind – that one should not only read and listen, but also strive to become such a person as, say, Mozart or Beethoven. “.
Brodsky and “translation difficulties”
Another quote from the Nobel Lecture gave Bentdu Janfeldt a reason to talk about the skill of Joseph Brodsky as a translator, and about the sound of his poems in other languages. Brodsky asserted: “a poet always knows that what is colloquially called the voice of the Muse is in fact a dictate of language; that language is not his instrument, but he is a means of language for the continuation of its existence “.
According to the Slavist, Brodsky very well translated into Russian his beloved Wuisten Auden. “I’m not sure he translated himself just as well,” notes Bendt Youngfeldt. And he adds that the translations of Brodsky into Russian by the English metaphysical poets of the 17th century are very different from the original. He simply expounded the same thoughts, but he did it in the most free form, and it turned out to be a transcription of the poems into Russian, and not their literal translation.
At the same time, observing the work of Yangfeldt himself on translating his poems into Swedish, Joseph Brodsky allowed the use of those metaphors that would more accurately convey the meaning of what he wrote in Russian. Then, comparing his own translations of his poems into English and Bentd Youngfelt’s versions of the same lines in Swedish, Brodsky paid tribute to the skill of his friend.
“I can say that many of what Brodsky wrote will live much longer than the poems of many poets of the day. Simply because his gift is higher and greater. There will always be connoisseurs of his poetry, ”concludes Professor Bendt Youngfeldt.