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This collection of essays thrusts Brodsky—heretofore known more for his poetry and translations—into the forefront of the “Third Wave” of Russian emigre writers. His insights into the works of Dostoyevsky, Mandelstam, Platonov, as well as non-Russian poets Auden, Cavafy and Montale are brilliant. While the Western popularity of many other Third Wavers has been stunted by their inability to write in English, Brodsky consumed the language to attain a “closer proximity” to poets such as Auden. The book, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, opens and closes with revealing autobiographical essay.