Research concerning Joseph Brodsky has emphasized two aspects of his work - his poetry and philosophy as an exile from the Soviet Union. The resulting scholarship has presented him as a fundamentally dissident author with little or no positive connection to the social and literary environments in which he spent more than half his life. In Joseph Brodsky and the Soviet Muse David MacFadyen counters the melodrama surrounding the poet's reputation, repositioning him in the context of Leningrad during the fifties and sixties.
MacFadyen focuses on Brodsky's poetic beginnings. Revising the typical, simplistic representation of the young Brodsky and his peers in Western criticism, he demonstrates that Brodsky and his acquaintances absorbed an amazingly wide range of texts, both old and new, and that they read contemporary American, French, German, and Polish literature. Through numerous interviews with Brodsky's contemporaries and vast archival research, MacFadyen offers a vital new slant on Brodsky's early verse, providing the first published translations of these poems and examining Brodsky's work in relation to a broad international spectrum of influences to reveal the art and craft of his poetry.
Joseph Brodsky and the Soviet Muse will appeal not only to those interested in Brodsky and the cultural influences that shaped his work and literature of the time but to those intrigued with Russian history and culture.