Joseph Brodsky

Facts

Joseph Brodsky

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Joseph Brodsky
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1987

Born: 24 May 1940, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), USSR (now Russia) (now Russia)

Died: 28 January 1996, New York, NY, USA

Residence at the time of the award: USA

Prize motivation: "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity."

Language: English (prose) and Russian (poetry)

Prize share: 1/1

Life

Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad, the Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia), and worked as a poet, essayist and translator. He was arrested in 1964 and sentenced to five years at hard labor in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia. During his exile Brodsky was published in the United States, and many of the author’s colleagues in the West worked for his release. He was set free in 1965 but was expelled from Russia seven years later, after which he settled in the United States. He taught there at several universities and was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991.

Work

Joseph Brodsky began writing poetry at the age of 18. His poetry was inspired by Russian predecessors such as Alexander Pushkin and Boris Pasternak, but also by British poets such as John Donne and W.H. Auden. His forced exile affected Brodsky’s writing, both linguistic and thematically. In Chast’ rechi (1977) (A Part of Speech), he describes how he gradually loses hair, teeth, consonants and verbs. A recurring theme in the Brodsky’s poems is the relationship between the poet and society. For Brodsky, literature and language are important tools in the development of society, something that develops human thinking.

To cite this section
MLA style: Joseph Brodsky – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Thu. 29 Jul 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1987/brodsky/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.