I learned about this book from another book: "Brodsky: Osya Iosif Joseph" by Ludmila Shtern. It is a very interesting biography of author's long-term friend, Nobel lauretae Joseph Brodsky and it includes also other common friends. Among them is the Liberman couple, Aleks and Tatiana. They were in the first wave of russian emigres, those of the October revolution. Their story began in Paris. Tatiana Yakovleva was the last flame of russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The fate (and inrtigue) wouldn't have it and Tatiana married another man and had a daughter by him. Aleksander was also married, but his wife left him. When Tatiana and Aleks became lovers, their marriages were in ruins already. Then Tatiana's husband was killed, then war came. Aleks and Tatiana managed to escape from occupied France to New York. They were not poor, they never were, but in America they had to start all over again. Their excellent education and their artistic talent made it easy for them and they became leading people in american fashion and publicistic industry, they made to the top of the reach, the beautiful and the successfull, the creme-de-la-creme. They never forgot though their bad times and their origins. They were the pillar of russian circle in New York. They supported many russian emigres of the later era, defleced writers, ballet dancers etc. You can read a book, written by Tatiana's daugter Francine du Plesix Gray: "Them: A memoir of Parents". Among these russian "outcasts" was also Joseph Brodsky, solitary, impractical, sad, of genius, jewish. He was evicted from the SU because of his poetry or rather because he refused to bend his poetry to soviet moulds. As I had sad, he was given Nobel prize for literature later on. Aleks Liberman loved Rome and so did Joseph Brodsky. So the idea, that Brodsky would write an essay for his book of photograps of Capitoline Hill in Rome or rather the monument standing there, came naturally. And what a great idea it was! For me his essay in 20 short chapters is the highlight of the book, even though the photographs are OK, some of them even fantastic. Brodsky has his own unique view on everything. I couldn't repeat it to you if I wanted to, but he speaks of the world of antiquity and of our own, about monuments, about ceasars, about philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius, about philosophy and perception. Brodsky is a self-thouht man, but the scope of his knowledge is enormous. Not to mention his ability to express himself. Texts like this are the best source to learn about things, because you won't find anything like it in history or art books. At the back of the book there is also a Historical perspective by Diane Kelder, which I didn't read of course. Not after Brodsky! Liberman and Brodsky escorted their book, presented by them to their mutual friend Misha Barishnikov, with such a dedication:
Man and his horse couldn't do worse than putting in use two Russian Jews.
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