the archivist May 8, 2013

…Among those “enemies” prosecuted as a parasite was Joseph Brodsky, a young poet and future recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. At that time, he was considered among “the most politically unreliable” people, because he  “was part of a circle of anti-Soviet individuals” and “wrote poems of a decadent and even hostile nature” instead of engaging in activities that would benefit the state.

The hearings in the Brodsky case started on February 18, 1964. Brodsky was charged with willful social parasitism, and his trial would become part of Russian and world literature:

Judge: What do you do?

Brodsky: Write poems. Do translations. I guess ….

Judge: No expressions like “I guess.” Stand still! Do not lean on the wall! Look at the judge! Answer the judge properly! … We are not interested in “I guess.” Answer – why didn’t you work?

Brodsky: I worked. I wrote poems.

Judge: We are not interested in this. We are interested in the following: with what organization were you affiliated? …  In general, what is your specialty?

Brodsky: Poet.  Poet-translator.

Judge: Who has acknowledged that you are a poet? Who assigned you to poets?

Brodsky: Nobody. (In an unchallenging manner) And who assigned me to humans?

Judge: Did you study this?

Brodsky: What?

Judge: To be a poet? Did you try to complete a degree, attend a university where one is prepared, trained?

Brodsky: I do not think it can be acquired by education.

Judge: By what then?

Brodsky: I think this comes (Embarrassedly) … from God.


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