Brodsky, Joseph

BORN 24 May 1940, Leningrad (now: St. Petersburg) - DIED 28 Jan 1996, New York City, New York: Brooklyn Heights
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Venezia, Veneto: Cimetero di San Michele, Isola San Michele (Rec. XV Rep. Evangelici)

Joseph Brondsky descended from the ancient Schorr family of rabbis. His father Aleksandr Brodsky was aphotographer and his mother Maria Volpert Brodskaya was an interpreter. During the Second World War he and his parents survived the Siege of Leninggrad. As a child he suffered from anti-Semitic teachers and he didn't like Lenin. After leaving school at the age of fifteen he had various jobs, but he also learned Polish and English to translate literary work.

In 1955 he started writing poetry and that were circulating seceretly. They were wel lread and in 1960 he met the leading poet Anna Akhmatova who became his mentor. In 1962 she introduced him to the painter Marina Basmanova. They entered into a relationship, but Brodsky's friend Dmitri Bobyshev was also in love of her and was possibly responsible for speaking badly of him and his work to the authorities, because after Bobyshev started to pursue Basmanova, the authorities were turning against Brodsky. When in 1963 a newspaper wrote that his poetry was 'pornographic and anti-Soviet' his friends knew what would happen next. He was arrested, temporarily put into a mental institution, tried, and sentenced to five years of exile and labour because of parasitism. He was forced to live 350 miles from Leningrad. But he had his own cottage and there he was visited by several friends including Basmanova.

In 1965 he was released early after a protest led by Ahkmatova and supported by Shostakovich, Sartre and others. In 1967 his son Andrei was born, but Basmanova broke off their relationship afterwards. He lived in Leningrad but in 1971 he was invited to emigrate to Israel. After he refused he was put on a plane to Vienna by the authorities. with the help of the poets W.H. Auden and Carl Proffer he moved on the USA and settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He worked as a professor at several universities. In 1979 he head open-heart surgery and his health was weak afterwards. His work was recognized widely and in 1987 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1991 he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.

In 1990 he taught literature in France when he met the Russian-Italian student Maria Sozzani. They married on 1 September of that year and had a daughter, Anna Brodsky (b.1993). After spending probably yhe happiest five years of his life with Maria, Brodsky died of a heart attack in 1996 at his appartment in Brooklyn. After his death Maria returned to her native Italy and buried him in Venice.

Related persons
• was supported by Sartre, Jean-Paul


The grave of Joseph Brodsky at the Cimitero di San Michele, Venice.
Picture by Androom (13 Feb 2016)


Time magazine
Joseph Brodsky - Wikipedia

Brodzinski, Kazimierz

Published: 19 Sep 2020
Last update: 19 Apr 2022