Joseph Brodsky’s talent as poet and essayist was internationally acknowledged after his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1972. Nobel Prize for literature in 1987 and Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991, Brodsky as a professor and lecturer travelled extensively in the United States, South America and Europe. His special affection for Italy led him to Rome to search for “classicism and empire”, to Florence for the embodiment of language and exile, and to Venice, to find the “estrangement” he deemed necessary for an artist. A reflection of his native St. Petersburg, Venice disclosed a discursive space to analyse the major themes of his work: displacement and identity, culture and transculturation, and language and time. From his early poems in Russian, through the intense prose of the autobiographical essay in English Watermark, in this essay, I try to show the transformation of Brodsky’s lyric-self: from a Russian poet in exile into an American flâneur writer.
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