June 25, 2020 0 By admin

Memory, death, love, beauty, dreams – Brodsky touches on all of these in this wonderfully evocative book, says PD Smith. A very, very short prose-exercise by Nobelist Brodsky about Venice, his many wintertime trips there, the enchantment and ironies and visual. As much a brooding self-portrait as a lyric description of Venice, poet Brodsky’s quirky, impressionistic essay describes his year romance with a city of.

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The City Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky Called Paradise | Travel | Smithsonian

Preview — Watermark by Joseph Brodsky. Watermark by Joseph Brodsky. Cynthia Krupat Designed by. In this brief, intense, gem-like book, equal parts extended autobiographical essay and prose poem, Brodsky turns his eye to the seductive watermaek enigmatic city of Venice. A mosaic of 48 short chapters—each recalling a specific episode from one of his many visits there Brodsky spent his winters in Venice for nearly 20 years — Watermark associatively and brilliantly evokes one In this brief, intense, gem-like brovsky, equal parts extended autobiographical essay and prose poem, Hrodsky turns his eye to the seductive and enigmatic city of Venice.

A mosaic of bfodsky short chapters—each recalling a specific episode from one of his many visits there Brodsky spent his winters in Venice for nearly 20 years — Watermark associatively and brilliantly evokes one city’s architectural and atmospheric character.

In doing so, the book also reveals a subject—and an author—readers have never before seen. Paperbackpages. Published June 1st by Farrar, Straus and Giroux first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Watermarkplease sign up.

Lists with This Brodsk. Oct 07, Kalliope rated it really liked it Recommended to Kalliope by: He is buried there. He is not alone. Other writers, other artists, also chose to rest there. Diaguilev, Pound, and Stravinsky among others keep him company. Knowing this while reading his very personal ode to Venice acquires an eerie poignancy and adds a premonitory elegiac tint to his prose.

I say it is wxtermark personal because this brosky does not belong to any particular genre. It is a mixture between a lyrical chant, an analy He is buried there. The most beautiful parts are the lyrical, because, in waves, they come and go like clear water and mark the pulse of the poet.

When the waves retreat they leave drier matter-of-fact passages that shake you and wake you up from the lolling dream.

Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky – review

But the water comes back. And we learn that his fascination and obsession with Venice was born, in a manner that would have enchanted the Surrealists, out of kitsch objects from his Vrodsky childhood as well as out of a run-of-the-mill book. But then they grew into a fully developed recognition of what beauty is.

Since for him love is an affair between reflection and its object. As mirrors, reflection and water are the stuff of our eyes, Brodsly then proposes the most engrossing declaration I have read so far of the power and nature of the eye when searching for beauty. The eye is the most autonomous of our organs because its attention is always watermarl to the outside.

Except in a mirror, the eye never sees itself. And the eye looks for safety and this it finds it in art, in Venetian art. And thus he finishes: Water equals time and provides beauty with its double.


Part water, we serve beauty in the same fashion. Because the city is static while we are moving. Because we go and beauty stays. Because we are headed for the future, while beauty is the eternal present.

And the city and its water left in Brodsky their mark and as he thought that love is a one way street that is where he has stayed. And he left his mark on wattermark, for us. I wish to thank Geoff Wilt for drawing attention on this book to me.

View all 30 comments. I never understood why it was a popular topic, and went on to associate the place with chore-ish dullness, dimly aware it also had some mysterious cult following. A couple of days ago, though, I watched repeats of a BBC documentary series, Francesco’s Venicewhich first time round I either deliberately ignored or never noticed. The documentary was a little jumbled in chronology [4.

The documentary was a little jumbled in chronology, but made up for it in atmosphere. It also doesn’t hurt that presenter Francesco da Mosto is the sort of silver fox that would suit a bored nearly-middle-aged woman’s daydream of a cheerfully fleeting fling, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Italian in Eat Pray Love.

But how extremely weird that I didn’t previously know about the great eighteenth and nineteenth century mythos of Venice as a place of decadence, Romanticism and beautiful decay, and how that lingers in the present popular idea of the place even whilst the reality may be a carefully tended living museum, stuffed to the gills with camera-clicking tourists.

From my mid teens onwards, I somehow managed to read about all sorts of aesthetes and decadents, aware of plenty of other European cities having associations with them, without ever really noticing Venice beyond the title of a book by Ruskin.

I even saw the scenes in the David Tennant Casanova series 11 years ago and assumed they had as much dramatic licence as the ball costumes, or were relevant only to a tiny coterie.

A few years ago I really connected with the film Death in Venice because Aschenbach never does anything with the boy, I think it can easily be transposed to some other love-object one can’t havebut again that seemed isolated, not the efflorescence of a spirit of place. Venice was just somewhere they happened to have canals instead of roads, where it was probably unpleasantly hot and muggy, and there was a load of Baroque art I’m not all that into.

Northern Renaissance all the way for me: Baroque is too fuzzy round the edges, and I regret to say that there is, IMO, such a thing as too much gold leaf. It’s very odd to think that all this time, Venice had associations that I’d have rather liked, if only I’d known. So I wanted to read more about this side of Venice, to see if I could get into it after all this time – this needed writing that was heavy on atmosphere more than geographical fact and political history.

Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky – review | Books | The Guardian

Going by its beginning, this novella-length essay seemed perfect. I would never come here in summer, not even at gunpoint. I take heat very poorly; the unmitigated emissions of hydrocarbons and armpits still worse. He is another of those wonders, like Nabokov, who writes beautifully in English regardless of its being a second language – and though parts of the essay were more introspective and personal than I hoped or wanted, I connected with a good few of those.

Overall it is lovely, and its density justifies its being a separate book.

I was glad of Brodsky’s wide-ranging references to different academic fields, that he thinks well beyond literature, even if the metaphors playing with science did sometimes get a little too fanciful. Most of the rest is quotes: I was smitten by a feeling of utter happiness: Personally, I hate the smell of seaweed – but reading this, how could one not understand what it is to like it? So I lifted my bags and stepped outside.


I love the flow of such writing when the references aren’t overtly explained. It makes me sad on here to see reviews where the writer would naturally not have explained such things, and feels the need to preface their reference with a sentence or two explaining the TV series or brand and its character in their country, despite readers being on the internet and therefore quite able to look things up if they don’t know, and although many of the writer’s friends probably do know.

Water unsettles the principle of horizontality, especially at night, when its surface resembles pavement. No matter how solid its substitute —the deck—under your feet, on water you are somewhat more alert than ashore, your faculties are more poised. On water, for instance, you never get absentminded the way you do in the street: Elucidating feelings one never really knew how to verbalise.

How a Russian came to be smitten with the idea of Venice long before he’d been there. These rooms feel like the centrepiece; I should have cut some lines from this, but couldn’t: Whatever the original color and pattern of the drapes had been, they now looked pale yellow and very brittle. A touch of your finger, let alone a breeze, would mean sheer destruction to them, as the shards of fabric scattered nearby on the parquet suggested.

They were shedding, those curtains, and some of their folds exposed broad, bald, threadbare patches, as though the fabric felt it had come full circle and was now reverting to its pre-loom state. Deep and inviting, it seemed to contain a perspective of its own—perhaps another enfilade. For a moment I felt dizzy; but as I was no novelist, I skipped the option and took a doorway There was a great deal of dust everywhere; the hues and shapes of everything in sight were mitigated by its gray.

Marble inlaid tables, porcelain figurines, sofas, chairs, the very parquet. Everything was powdered with it, and sometimes, as with figurines and busts, the effect was oddly beneficial, accentuating their features, their folds, the vivacity of a group. Now it will seep into the objects themselves, I thought, fuse with them, and in the end replace them After all, for three centuries, nothing here reigned supreme.

Wars, revolutions, great discoveries, geniuses, plagues never entered here due to a legal problem. I suspect and submit that, in the first place, it evolved from the very element that gave that chordate life and shelter and which, for me at least, is synonymous with time Splashing, glittering, glowing, glinting, the element has been casting itself upward for so long that it is not surprising that some of these aspects eventually acquired mass, flesh, and grew solid Why it should have happened here, I have no idea.

Presumably because the element here had heard Italian. I think it was Hazlitt who said that the only thing that could beat this city of water would be a city built in the air. View all 4 comments. Feb 12, Sidharth Vardhan rated it really liked it Shelves: Well, Venice is the city of poets just as rose is their flower and nightingale their bird.

It is hardly surprising then that another writer should fell prey to her.