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Joseph Brodsky and Louis MacNeice: Creation of a Sacred Landscape
2019 (English)In: Slovo: Journal of Slavic Languages, Literatures and Cultures , E-ISSN 2001-7359, Vol. 60, p. 48-62Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Joseph Brodsky belonged to the generation that came to consciousness just in time for de-Stalinization. One of their goals became breaking the spell of Russia’s isolation from the West. Even before his exile from Russia, Brodsky absorbed, internalized, and translated poetry by many English-language poets. While some of these connections, such as those with the poetry of John Donne and W. H. Auden, have drawn a lot of scholarly attention, others have been neglected, such as with the work of the Irish-British poet Louis MacNeice. The present article tries to redress this imbalance, drawing on an archival find and an intertextual connection. I show that MacNeice was an influence on Brodsky when it came to his shift from the classical syllabotonic verse meters of the Russian poetic tradition, which Brodsky had predominantly used up until the early 1970s, to a gradual passage to accentual verse, or loose dol'nik. I also show that MacNeice’s own exilic predicament and bitterly disenchanted views expressed in his poetry about Ireland, his country of origin, allowed Brodsky to identify with MacNeice’s restrained and subdued tone in his more lyrical pieces about his home country. The poetic balance inspired by MacNeice helped Brodsky avoid the sentimentality typical of many Russian émigrés who wrote about their country of origin, and set a neutral tone for his lyric cycle “Čast' reči”/ “A Part of Speech,” which dealt with the topic of his own loss of home. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 2019. Vol. 60, p. 48-62
National Category
Languages and Literature
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-404206OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-404206DiVA, id: diva2:1393262
Available from: 2020-02-14 Created: 2020-02-14 Last updated: 2020-02-14

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