A Place as Good as Any: Essays

Joseph Brodsky, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-23415-7
Art, especially literature, is ``a form of moral insurance'' that, if widely disseminated, could counteract the worst impulses of societies and governments, declares Brodsky in his eloquent 1987 Nobel lecture. In another essay, ``An Immodest Proposal,'' the eminent poet and essayist suggests ways to make poetry much more available to the public. In an open letter to Czech president Vaclav Havel, Brodsky (who emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in 1972 after spending two years in prison as a dissident) looks squarely at the moral and economic anarchy of post-communist eastern Europe. This miscellany of reprinted essays and speeches reveals an elegant writer and incisive thinker. ``Collector's Item'' segues from spy novels, to a psychological profile of Cambridge spy Kim Philby, secret agent for Moscow, to an analysis of how espionage becomes a mutually destructive game. Elsewhere Brodsky champions Thomas Hardy as a modern poet of existential truths and follows Rainer Maria Rilke's poetic journey to the netherworld of Orpheus. Other pieces deal with nostalgia, lessons of history, a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Robert Frost's poetry and Roman emperor/poet Marcus Aurelius's Stoic Meditations. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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