These essays were outstandingly written in my opinion, because they explored ideas which were not familiar to me prior to the time of reading. Being a huge fan of Anna Akhmatova's poetry, I didn't take long to decide whether I liked or disliked Brodsky's style of essay-writing (my decision was the former one, naturally). I really enjoyed observing the result of Akhmatova's mentoring in Brodsky's work, whose obvious characterisitcs were the refusal of opting for any kind of symbolism, vulgar or not vulgar, to illustrate his points, a certain economy of writing, apparent lack of gruelling emotion, and his ever apparent refernces to boredom. None of his essays were dedicated entirely to personal emotion, but neither were they devoid of a human conscience, which is a trademark feature of Akhmatova's poetry.
I couldn't help but be reminded of Akhmatova's omnipresent theme of 'eternal boredom' in Brodsky's essay regarding boredom. Akhmatova's suggestions that languor can lead to a flashflood of fresh, novel ideas seemed to be transliterated by Brodsky's philosophy, which postulated that boredom is inevitable, because life is a means of repition, since repetion is boring to the human mind, but boredom cannot be combated by the various means of entertainment and variation invented by our species. Boredom must be embraced, in his opinion, because it helps us to acknowledge that we are creatures only of a limited lifespan, and confirms our insignificance. However he supposes that finite things have more capacity for compassion, joy, emotions and all the other pleasures of life than things which are infinte, which at first puzzled me then started to make perfect sense. In a way, that charged me with motivation, what I really need at the moment, and what I least expected from this book.
I had to sympathise also with his pleas throughout the book to somehow allow poetry to develop the status it deserves in the public's imagination. Indeed people who understand poetry are not as common as ,say, fans of novelists. I agree with what he says about poetry requiring a special type of literacy, and is not at all an optional skill to attain, because poetry, to quote from Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" is not a speck of dust; it can cover a great amount of perspective in a few lines, and they are full of meaning. I don't think that poetry is any worse than prose, despite opinions that prose is less negligent of emotion than poetry.