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 :: 1940-, Russian-born American Poet, Critic

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After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Work]

 

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Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Writers and Writing]

 

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How delightful to find a friend in everyone.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Friends and Friendship]

 

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If a poet has any obligation toward society, it is to write well. Being in the minority, he has no other choice. Failing this duty, he sinks into oblivion. Society, on the other hand, has no obligation toward the poet. A majority by definition, society thinks of itself as having other options than reading verses, no matter how well written. Its failure to do so results in its sinking to that level of locution at which society falls easy prey to a demagogue or a tyrant. This is society's own equivalent of oblivion.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Poetry and Poets]

 

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In the works of the better poets you get the sensation that they're not talking to people any more, or to some seraphical creature. What they're doing is simply talking back to the language itself --as beauty, sensuality, wisdom, irony --those aspects of language of which the poet is a clear mirror. Poetry is not an art or a branch of art, it's something more. If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological, indeed genetic, goal. Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a ''read,'' commits an anthropological crime, in the first place, against himself.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Poetry and Poets]

 

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It would be enough for me to have the system of a jury of twelve versus the system of one judge as a basis for preferring the U.S. to the Soviet Union. I would prefer the country you can leave to the country you cannot.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Exile]

 

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Racism? But isn't it only a form of misanthropy?
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Race and Racism]

 

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The poetic notion of infinity is far greater than that which is sponsored by any creed.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Infinity]

 

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The real history of consciousness starts with one's first lie.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Consciousness]

 

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The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even -- if you will -- eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Evil]

 

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There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Books and Reading]

 

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What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Cities and City Life]

 

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What should I say about life? That it's long and abhors transparence.
~ Joseph Brodsky - [Life and Living]

 

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