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On Grief and Reason: Essays

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  364 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
On Grief and Reason is the second volume of Joseph Brodsky's essays, and the first to be published since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. In addition to his Nobel lecture, the volume includes essays on the condition of exile, the nature of history, the art of reading, and the idea of the poet as an inveterate Don Giovanni, as well as a homage to Marcus ...more
Paperback, 504 pages
Published April 10th 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1995)
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Magdalen
Κοτζαμάν Brodsky και μας δίνουν 5 αφηγήματα..
Υπέροχος λόγος, αλλά η θεματολογία αν εξαιρέσω μερικά σημεία ήταν αδιάφορη. Πέρασε και δεν ακούμπησε ο αγαπητός Γιόζεφ.
Hadrian
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
An idiosyncratic collection of essays and other criticism. Brodky's English is witty, complicated, distinctive, and a bit strange. Some of his essays wander far away from their established topic, and it is unusual to see him naively lecturing Havel about how poetry is enough to build a nation. When he is talking about other writers - other poets, like Robert Frost or Rainer Maria Rilke - then he is sublime.
Tom
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
"A substantial part of what lies ahead of you is going to be claimed by boredom."

Imagine starting a commencement address with this line? This is what Brodsky did at Dartmouth, 1989, with his essay "In Praise of Boredom," just one of the brilliant pieces included in his collection On Grief and Reason. (I'd gladly attend more commencement ceremonies at our own campus if we got to hear brutally frank but entertaining and existential addresses like Brodsky's!)

In a nutshell, he argues that college d
...more
Harper Curtis
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, witty, entertaining.
Makes great reading for anyone who is a little bit down in the dumps. Here's a gem from "In Praise of Boredom" (p.111), a commencement address (!) in which Brodsky demonstrates how boredom teaches us to understand time and our own utter insignificance:

"...what's good about boredom, about anguish and the sense of the meaninglessness of your own, of everything else's existence, is that it is not a deception.

"...Try to embrace, or let yourself be embraced by, boredom
...more
James
On Grief and Reason is a collection of twenty-one essays, all but one written since 1986. Of these, some are without question on a par with the best of his earlier collection, Less Than One. In “Spoils of War,” for instance—an essay classical in form, light in touch—Brodsky continues the amusing and sometimes poignant story of his youth, using those traces of the West—corned-beef cans and shortwave radios as well as movies and jazz—that found their way through the Iron Curtain to explore the mea ...more
Ariki Brian
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the most enjoyable book I have read,
I have had a wry wee grin on my face for the past week because of Brodsky.
He turns a cocophany of thoughts into a clear narrative that will had me wondering if I should have
Studied literature and philosophy instead of engineering.

Thanks for recommending this goodreads
( I realize that i im a Mongol addressing a algorithm :-))
Jay Daze
May 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, essays
Twenty-one essays by the Nobel prize-winning poet. Two of the essays are his Noble lecture and his acceptance speech, and many of the other essays were written for occasions or lectures. What makes these essays stick is that Brodsky has the knack of living in his prose pieces and imbuing them with his warm, intelligent personality. I would have payed money to eavesdrop on the parents walking out after listening to his 1989 Dartmouth College commencement address, "In Praise of Boredom". Good luck ...more
Aaron
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Before I knew Brodsky was a poet I was drawn to the thoughtful and expansive essays in Less Than One. The essays in this book are fewer in number but are no less universal in their understanding. The essays on life in the Soviet Union and the titular essay are among the most moving prose I've ever read.
H
Nov 30, 2013 added it
Shelves: poets-prose
from THE CONDITION WE CALL EXILE

To be lost in mankind, in the crowd--crowd?--among billions; to become a needle in that proverbial haystack--but a needle someone is searching for--that's what exile is all about. Put down your vanity, it says, you are but a grain of sand in the desert. Measure yourself not against your pen pals but against human infinity: it is about as bad as the inhuman one. Out of that you should speak, not out of your envy or ambition. (25)

For the other truth of the matter is
...more
Nancy
Feb 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Nobel Prize winner....but still his essay 'A Cat's Meow' is
worth 1 star. Just awful.
I will read essay 'On Grief and Reason'
...and give him a second chance.
Mauro
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um resuminho dos dois primeiros textos, só para dar um gostinho. O "Grief and Reason" propriamente dito, sobre o Robert Frost, é um primor.

Spoils of War.
Reminiscências do pós-guerra, na Rússia. As crianças, diz Brodsky, foram as pessoas que mais lucraram com a guerra, com as coisas que tinham para fantasiar e romantizar, especialmente as vindas do Leste (mais especificamente dos EUA). Os filmes – que mostravam o individualismo dos heróis solitários, em contraste com a sociedade comuno-orientada
...more
l.
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it
ugh the misconception that Marcus Aurelius did something out of the ordinary in not adopting an heir really irritates me (#my worthless degree) but pedantry aside, a good collection. The style gets a bit annoying at times (he keeps pausing to ask you to bear with him and he does repeat himself & digress quite a lot), but there are some very lovely passages on time, antiquity, exile, boredom etc.

The essay on Frost is wonderful - if only poetry was explained that well in school... I didn't qu
...more
Tsvetoslav Shalev
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I must admit that I bought this book without doing much research. And as a man who has little interest in ancient authors and poetry in general, I found myself skipping pages. Still, one should really appreciate the genius of Joseph Brodsky. A must-read for anyone who loves literature.
Ajai   Mangattu
It s a wonderful collection of prose on poetry and literature in general. There s his nobel lecture and acceptance speech. A homage to Marcus Aurelius and essays on Hardy,Frost and Rilke r exceptionally imaginative and enchanting.
Nancy Rojo
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I haven't really finished the whole book. I purchased it for the essay in the title and that was excellent. The rest of the essays will be read while waiting in the car because I always keep a book in the car for short reads.
Nino Meladze
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was touched deeply by most of the essays, especially those that were referring to Joseph's memories and associations. Brodsky is an author with expressive, pointed views which may be disliked, or on the contrary admired. I am, clearly, on the latter end.
Clauber Torres
Feb 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Eu nunca liguei muito pra ensaios até conhecer Joseph Brodsky. A sua excelente escrita, aliada a um senso crítico pertinente e um bom senso de humor me fizeram repensar o ensaio como uma leitura obrigatória para acompanhar o pensamento sobre determinada época.
James
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
there's some really great bits on stoicism however most of it is brodsky close reading his favourite poems - which i guess means im the fool for expecting a book of essays from a poet to be anything else.
Sally
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Some of the essays were wonderful - particularly "Spoils of War" about his youth in Russia, and his insightful title essay on Frost - and Brodsky is always a master stylist. But I grew tired of his rather cynical outlook.
Jesse
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Good stuff. Several of the essays are very insightful. He is also well read and he comes at things from a different angle sometimes. I appreciated his suggestion that we should evaluate political candidates on which books they have or have not read. Overall, a good collection.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 21, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: books-on-books
Has the speech "How to Read a Book"
Liya Wu
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great book with 21 essays collection of Stephen Brodsky, wonderful journey for poetry and literature in general.
Xio
May 08, 2007 rated it liked it
So far so good. I enjoy the argument.
Jacob Trinity
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
the paydirt of literature.
Alla Polyakova
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
a couple of the essays were great, but the majority spoke to a particular audience that the speech was intended for and really lost me.
The
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ih.
Polina
Jun 24, 2013 added it
Shelves: nobel-prize
См Less than one
Marvey
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I found out about him through the Birkerts book. I enjoyed the essay on boredom and his nobel prize acceptance speech.
Stan Berning
I really can't review or give this book a rating. It is simply not my cup of tea; too dense and academic. The man can certainly write but I could never read him.
Eric
rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2010
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  • Selected Writings
  • The Dyer's Hand
  • Theory of Prose
  • The Second Common Reader
  • Selected Poems: 1931-2004
  • Miracle Fair: Selected Poems
  • The Imaginary
  • The Noise of Time: Selected Prose
  • The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
  • The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination
  • A Temple of Texts
  • That Mighty Sculptor, Time
  • The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays
  • A Jacques Barzun Reader
  • Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999
  • Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938
  • The Life of Poetry
11563
Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky (Russian: Иосиф Александрович Бродский, IPA: [ɪˈosʲɪf ˈbrotskʲɪj] was a Russian poet and essayist.

Born in Leningrad in 1940, Brodsky ran afoul of Soviet authorities and was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972, settling in America with the help of W. H. Auden and other supporters. He taught thereafter at universities including those at Yale, Cambridge and Michigan.

Br
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More about Joseph Brodsky...
“...boredom speaks the language of time, and it is to teach you the most valuable lesson in your life--...the lesson of your utter insignificance. It is valuable to you, as well as to those you are to rub shoulders with. 'You are finite,' time tells you in a voice of boredom, 'and whatever you do is, from my point of view, futile.' As music to your ears, this, of course, may not count; yet the sense of futility, of limited significance even of your best, most ardent actions is better than the illusion of their consequence and the attendant self-satisfaction.” 39 likes
“love is an attitude toward reality – usually of someone finite toward something infinite.” 12 likes
More quotes…