Joseph Brodsky
Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky , was a Russian poet
Russian literature
Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia or its émigrés, and to the Russian-language literature of several independent nations once a part of what was historically Russia or the Soviet Union...

 and essayist.

In 1964, 23-year-old Brodsky was arrested and charged with the crime of "social parasitism
Parasitism (social offense)
Social parasitism is a charge that is leveled against a group or class in society which is considered to be detrimental to the whole by analogy with biologic parasitism .-General concept:...

" He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and settled in America with the help of W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

 and other supporters. He taught thereafter at universities including those at Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 and Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...


Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity".

This is just one example of the trimming of the self that — along with the language itself, where verbs and nouns changed places as freely as one dare to have them do so — bred in us such an overpowering sense of ambivalence that in ten years we ended up with a willpower in no way superior to a seaweed’s.

There isn’t an executioner who isn’t scared of turning victim one day, nor is there the sorriest victim who would not acknowledge (if only to himself) a mental ability to become an executioner.