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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There was a great deal of dust everywhere; the hues and shapes of everything in sight were mitigated by its gray. The ceiling, though, was extraordinarily high and the windows were correspondingly tall. Several dozen people showed up for the ceremony.
But since, like his bfodsky, he, too, seemed to be a member of the CP, the job, I concluded, was best left to a comrade.
In fact, the whole city, especially at night, resembles a gigantic orchestra, with dimly lit music stands of palazzi, with a restless chorus of waves, with the falsetto of a star in the winter sky. Judging by the books behind the criss-crossed wire in the red, wardrobe-size wooden cabinet, the gentleman’s century could even have been the sixteenth. The city is narcissistc enough to turn your mind into an amalgam, unburdening it of brodsjy depths.
I found this confessional paragraph reminiscent of the introduction in Notes from the Underground by the unnamed narrator: All at once the cruiser was Istanbul in profile. After all, there is no saint without a monsternot to mention broodsky ink’s octopal affinity. Fastidiousness was one part of it; the other part was that when, somewhat later, I called the-only-person-I-knew-in-that-city from the depths of my labyrinth one blue evening, the architect, perhaps sensing in my broken Italian something untoward, cut the thread.
Add to this, tubercular poets and composers; add to this, men of moronic convictions watermadk aesthetes hopelessly enamored of this placeand the Embankment might earn its name, reality might catch up with language. I remember one daythe day I had to leave after a month here qatermark.
The old lady was in good shape, reasonably well off; on top of that, she had the comfort brodsmy her bordsky comfort, I felt, she’d go to any length to defend. The source of that attraction, I’d always felt, lay elsewhere, beyond the confines of biography, beyond one’s genetic makeupsomewhere in one’s hypothalamus, which stores our chordate ancestors’ impressions of their native realm offor examplethe very ichthus that caused this civilization. There is something primordial about traveling on water, even for short distances.
A mesh caught in frozen seaweed might be a better metaphor. This sounds, of course, like Statius talking to Virgil, but then it’s only proper for the likes of me to regard America as a kind of Purgatorionot to mention Dante himself suggesting as much. Just an example, Brodsky writes, “Every surface craves dust, for dust is the flesh of time, as a poet said, time’s very flesh and blood; but here that craving seemed to be over.
The light ricocheted between the waves and the immaculate symmetries of pink marble commissioned by the doges long ago. And in the final analysis, the eye is not so wrong, if only because the common purpose of everything here is to be [seen]. Besides, you can’t follow it that well, whether it’s in Italian or Latin. The net result is, obviously, mutual negation. For here yourself is the last thing you care to see.
This is a time for reading, for burning electricity all day long, for going easy on self-deprecating thoughts or coffee, for listening to the BBC World Service, for going to bed early.
And in each one of them windows were draped and two or three mirrors adorned the walls. After all, we were a bookish crowd, and at a certain age, if you believe in literature, you think everyone shares or should share your conviction and taste.
Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky – review | Books | The Guardian
On the whole, however, I’ve always been as keen on the contents watermwrk this city’s average brick affairs as on those of the marbled and unique. There were quite a number of them out there, in a state of total freedom, and I felt I’d stepped into my own self-portrait in the cold air.
Like eggs, which oftenespecially while I’m fixing myself breakfastmake me imagine the unknown civilization that came up with the idea of producing canned food in an organic fashion, brick and bricklaying somehow ring of an alternative order of flesh, not raw of course, but scarlet enough, and made up of small, identical cells.
Notable Quotes and Passages The brilliant first sentence of Watermark. Email required Address never made public. But what this book lacked in length, it more than made up for in poignancy and enchantment.
It’s very odd to think that all this time, Venice had associations that I’d have rather liked, if only I’d known. A cat that has just had fish. She would bundle up for the nightpink woolen jersey, scarf, stockings, long socksand, having counted [uno, due, brodsmy