Thursday, April 4, 2013

Watermark by Joseph Brodsky


Recently published into paperback and ebook, Watermark is not a standard guide to Venice, if you were looking for a history guide with dates and names of historical figures this may not be the book for you, instead Brodsky's memoir of recollections is a shimmering evocation of his various and numerous visits to the city which at the same time reflects a lot about our selves, often the threads of observations end in reminding us of the bigger canvas, Brodsky's writing opens a space for contemplation. Published by Hamish Hamilton in 1992, Watermark is built up of a number of short pieces, at times these thematically link, and sometimes they break into new lines of inquiry.

Brodsky's Venice is caught somewhere between it's very real past with that of it's projected future imposed upon it, at the same time it's impenetrable beauty seems to evade definition, we are left to face our own reflections when we look at it. Brodsky sieves his memories of the city and of his impressions of meeting Olga Rudge, reading novels of Henri de Regnier, (translated by Mikhail Kuzmin), and also taking time to reflect on the creatures associated with it, creatures of the sea, the lion, at times the narrative dips into being prose poetry. Whilst we are taken into the labyrinthine city from varying perspectives, we are subtly reminded of the waters of the laguna that surround it. A penetratingly intelligent and at more times than be counted a profound book.  

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