Joseph Brodsky’s translations of his own Russian-language poems into English “new originals” have been criticized for their “un-Englishness,” an appraisal based on a narrow understanding of translation itself. With this radical reassessment of the Nobel Prize winner’s self-translations, Zakhar Ishov proposes a fresh approach to poetry translation and challenges the assumption that poetic form is untranslatable.
Brodsky in English draws on previously unexamined archival materials, including drafts and correspondence with translators and publishers, to trace the arc of Brodsky’s experience with the English language. Ishov shows how Brodsky’s belief in the intellectual continuity between his former life in the Soviet Union and his new career in the United States, including as Poet Laureate, anchored his insistence on maintaining the formal architecture of his poems in translation, locating the transmission of poetic meaning in the rhythms of language itself. This book highlights Brodsky’s place within the long history of the compromises translation must make between linguistic material and poetic process.
INTRODUCTION: A BIOGRAPHY IN THE "TWISTS OF LANGUAGE"
CHAPTER 1. THE LENINGRAD LITERARY SCENE OF THE 1950s AND 1960s
CHAPTER 2. “THE COLD HAD MADE A POET"
CHAPTER 3. AMERICA AS A CONTINUATION OF SPACE
CHAPTER 4. "A SECOND CHRISTMAS BY THE SHORE"
CHAPTER 5. BRODSKY’S TRANSLATION PHILOSOPHY
CHAPTER 6. TRANSLATION BATTLEFIELD
CHAPTER 7. CHALLENGING THE MASTERS
CHAPTER 8. "DECEMBER IN FLORENCE"
CHAPTER 9. GOING IT ALONE
Zakhar Ishov: An Interview with Barry Rubin, New York City, February 2007
Zakhar Ishov: An Interview with Derek Walcott, New Haven, Oct. 27-28, 2007
Zakhar Ishov: An Interview with Mark Strand, New York, July 2009
“Brodsky in 1970,” a Memoir by Barry Scherr
“I read this book with genuine fascination. Brodsky in English is not simply a technical analysis of poetic translation but a study of translation informed by cultural and historical forces, and Ishov is a sensitive reader of poetry who is uniquely qualified to have written it.” —Michael Wachtel, author of The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Poetry
“Zakhar Ishov convincingly argues that Joseph Brodsky’s ‘accented’ English-language poetry deserves to be taken seriously as an integral part of the poet’s legacy. Brodsky’s love affair with the English language resulted in poems and self-translations that, although disparaged as inept and unidiomatic, became essential for his creative mission.” —Adrian Wanner, author of The Bilingual Muse: Self-Translation among Russian Poets