Recounting his childhood in war-ravaged Leningrad, boyish adventures in his hometown, life as an underground poet, standing trial as a "parasite" in Khrushchev's Russia (which he has never previously discussed in detail), enforced stays in mental institutions, and imprisonment in the icy north, Brodsky also describes hilarious attempts by the KGB to recruit him as an informer, his fateful letter to Brezhnev, and his consequent expulsion from the USSR. Special chapters of poignant reminiscence are devoted to Brodsky's two enduring friends and mentors: W. H. Auden and Anna Akhmatova. He also discusses, with cracking insight, his most profound influences: Robert Frost and Marina Tsvetaeva, the great Russian feminist poet.
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