Monday, March 09, 2009

Yes, yes... we're all for free speech...

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. "

Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky

Brodsky Anectode from Wiki:

In 1963, he was arrested and in 1964 charged with parasitism by the Soviet authorities. A famous excerpt from the transcript of his trial made by journalist Frida Vigdorova was smuggled to the West:

Judge: And what is your profession, in general?
Brodsky: I am a poet and a literary translator.
Judge: Who recognizes you as a poet? Who enrolled you in the ranks of poets?
Brodsky: No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of humankind?
Judge: Did you study this?
Brodsky: This?
Judge: How to become a poet. You did not even try to finish high school where they prepare, where they teach?
Brodsky: I didn’t think you could get this from school.
Judge: How then?
Brodsky: I think that it ... comes from God.

For his "parasitism" Brodsky was sentenced to five years of internal exile with obligatory engagement in physical work and served 18 months in the Archangelsk region. His sentence was commuted in 1965 after protests by prominent Soviet and foreign literary figures, including Evgeny Evtushenko, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

In 1964, Leonid Brezhnev came to power. As the Khrushchev Thaw period ended, only four of Brodsky's poems were published in the Soviet Union. He refused to publish his writings under censorship and most of his work has appeared only in the West or in samizdat form.


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