Where the wild things are reading level
Where the Wild Things Are Book ReviewSkip to main content
Book review by Mary Dixon Weidler, Common Sense Media
Common Sense says
Classic all-ages masterpiece has a wild imagination.
Maurice Sendak Fantasy 1969
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What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is a classic of children's literature. Although Max misbehaves, the message is one of parental love. This subtle masterpiece of story, writing, and art will have kids asking for repeated readings. Colorful language and a world of imagination make this wild adventure a fun learning experience.
December 23, 2021
Welcome to the Space Jam
Mischa A. Adult
May 29, 2021
What's the Story?
Wild child Max gets sent to bed without his supper after threatening to eat his mom. Well, he'll show her, right? In his room -- or, at least, in his mind -- a forest grows. Max boards a ship that takes him across oceans and days to the home of the wild things, which threaten him with snarls and claws and eye-rolling. Does this frighten our little wolf-boy? Of course not! Max hypnotizes the monsters, who declare him the most wild thing of all. Max joins in on the fun but quickly bores of the new adventure and sails back home -- to find supper in his room, still hot!
Is It Any Good?
This wonderful book is arguably Sendak's best work -- and one of the true classics of children's literature. Perhaps the most appealing element is the wordless series of illustrations in which, after Max begins the "wild rumpus," he and his new friends dance and cavort through six pages of some of the most whimsical, enchanting, and unique artwork in children's literature. The message of unconditional parental love is reassuring to young ones and a perfect ending to the story.
There's a reason why this won the Caldecott Medal. Sendak's giant monster characters are iconic. While they are described as scary in the book, their faces and lumbering frames make them appear almost jovial. You can almost feel the room shake when you watch them cavort in the forest. Max and his new friends dance and cavort through six pages of some of the most whimsical, enchanting, and unique artwork in children's literature.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Max's behavior. Why does Max act the way he does?
If he loves adventure so much, why does he go back home to his parents?
Which is your favorite of Max's monster friends?
- Author: Maurice Sendak
- Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
- Genre: Fantasy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTrophy
- Publication date: December 31, 1969
- Number of pages: 38
- Award: Caldecott Medal and Honors
- Last updated: March 18, 2019
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Looking for a Level ____ Book?
- Looking for a Level ____ Book?
Posted by Casey on Tuesday, Jun 11, 2019
I hear the leveling question often during the summer months, so I thought this information would be useful to repost.
Have you ever come to the children's desk and asked "Where can I find the level 1 books?" or "Where are your books with a Lexile number of....?" and received a long-winded round about answer?
It is well known that leveled reading is a dominant educational structure that most if not all caregivers and children learning to read will find themselves functioning within. Leveling books can be an extremely helpful tool in terms of finding books that children will be able to read independently. But it is just that, a tool, a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. If you take one thing away from this blog post I hope it is this: there is no such thing as a book that is 'too easy' or 'too difficult' for a reader at any level. That's a bold statement right? But when you think about why this is, it really starts to make sense.
Leveling systems don't account for content and each leveling system is different which is confusing--let's take a look at a classic, Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are". With a DRA of 16, and a Guided Reading level of 'J', Wild Things is about right for a 1st or 2nd grader. However, the Lexile measure is AD740L , AD meaning "Adult Directed" here indicates that this is a book generally read to a child, but an independent reader would be closer to this level anywhere from the end of grade 3 through grade 5.
Another important thing to note is that background knowledge increases reader level. If I have a child who is really into dinosaurs with lots of knowledge about them, then they are going to be reading books about dinosaurs at a higher level than other books, and at a higher level than a child who does not have that background knowledge. So children have multiple reading levels of proficiency depending on their background knowledge and interests.
Leveling can also lead to self-censorship--in order to continue reading at or above level, then those books that are below level are not considered. Allowing children to independently read books that they have no difficulty reading does nothing but allow for practice and serves to improve confidence and proficiency. Reading books that are above level is great, but reading only books that are challenging can be discouraging and lead to frustration with the process. If it's all drudgery, then when do we get to make reading fun? So, if your reader wants --insert interest--, then give them --interest--, but give them something else too, based on that interest, that might open up a door to another enjoyment.
Often when parents ask me about leveled reading I hear this undercurrent of fear. When we say that third graders should be reading "at level" what we're really saying is that by the end of third grade the average child is reading with a proficiency of 'x'. The issue here is that reading skills, like most others, lie within a bell curve. While the center of the curve is the average third grade reading level by the end of the year, 50% of children will be above this and 50% will be below this center. This is to be expected, it's perfectly normal and is not necessarily an indicator of future reading success. I often use myself, as a very late independent reader, as anecdotal evidence that reluctant or late readers can become avid ones.
The key is to make reading enjoyable and challenging at the same time. What better way to do this than to allow your readers the space and autonomy to select what they want to read for themselves based on their interests rather than their prescribed reading level? In short, levels are great, but they don't account for individuality; it's not about what we're reading or when and how we're reading it, it's about reading, full stop.
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Casey buys books for ICPL's youngest readers. However, she enjoys reading books of all shapes and sizes. You can find her at the Children's Desk, out and about at one of our area preschools, or providing in-house programming like StoryJAM.
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All Christopher Nolan films, including Tenet
Left-handed, color blind, father of many children, half American, half British, wonderful husband, lover of speaking names, fan of George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick and Michael Caine, author of five films from the KinoPoisk top 250 (with three of them in the top twenty) and seven films in the same list from IMDb (only the filmographies of Scorsese and Kubrick have the same number). Everyone was waiting for an Oscar for DiCaprio, but where is the golden boy for Christopher Nolan stories?
Roles: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Hou
Rating KinoPoisk: 7. 6
Three things are usually said about this film:
- is Nolan's first feature film project;
- the film's budget is only six thousand dollars;
- with "Pursuit" began the director's love for non-linear storytelling (there are four time plans whipped up with a story-editing blender).
And actually it's not the most interesting thing. The film tells about a writer who hides behind the hunt for a muse and follows random passers-by. The hero meets Cobb (forward-reference!) - a thief who robs other people's apartments not so much for money, but for pleasure and psychological impact on the victims. Everything in black and white, the shaking camera in the hands of Nolan the cameraman (with such a budget it was impossible to hire anyone), the buzzing streets of real London (the sets and studios also did not fit into six thousand dollars) - an interesting form, but Christopher Nolan is always about the content. The plot looks even cooler if you know where it came from: to create Nolan was inspired by the robbery of his apartment. Someone would fall into depression, someone into a rage, and Nolan began to think: what makes people push the boundaries of accepted norms and invade someone else's space? What is in the head of people who, according to Dostoevsky, “have the right”? Psychological research in neo-noir - that's Nolan's way. And by the way, among the director's recognizable features in "Pursuit" there is not only a twisted timeline and digging into the memory and subconscious, but also a love for details and small objects - fans of "The Beginning" will smile at the very first frames.
Roles: Guy Pierce, Carrie-Enn Moss, Joe Pantolyano
Genre: Thriller, Detective
Cinema Rating: 7.9
9000 Rating IMDB: 8.4 8.4
Leonard Shelby suffers from a rare form of amnesia - a man can only remember the last fifteen minutes of his life. Leonard's memory impairment appeared after the loss of his wife, whose killer Shelby is now trying to catch. The hero’s level of brutality is so wild that if Die Hard is multiplied by James Bond and the triple Witcher is added to them, Shelby will still win: the man smashes heads without trial, clogs his body with reminder tattoos and drives a powerful Jaguar.
It’s not worth talking about this film in great detail: Nolan did everything to sew viewers under Leonard’s skin and make them feel from the inside the terrible tension that Shelby constantly experiences. The film starts from the end and goes in the opposite direction, and each individual episode also starts from the final and unwinds to the start. We turn on the inner detective and enjoy the nervous suspense.
Oscar nominations for screenplay and editing.
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Cast: Al Pachino, Robin Williams, Hilary Suink
Genre: Thoriller, Detective, Drama
Ritual Room Pobed: 7. 4
9000 Rating IMDB: 7.2 7.2
The only film by Nolan that neither the director himself nor his brother Jonathan touched on the script. The latter, by the way, gave the world the idea of "Remember" and wrote scripts for "Interstellar", "The Prestige" and the third part of "The Dark Knight". The character of "Insomnia" is not Nolan's - it is a monotonous, depressing movie that does not make the mind work at breakneck speeds, but rather draws the viewer into its noir hypnotic circles. And it also reminds of The Machinist, so fans of this picture and lovers of Dostoevsky's motives come here. In general, a talented family of filmmakers has about the same attitude to Insomnia as Guy Ritchie has to Disney's Aladdin, and by the way, Insomnia is also a remake (the Norwegian film of the same name 1997th year).
Two detectives arrive in Alaska to investigate the murder of a schoolgirl. The polar day is not the only reason why the main character Will Dormer stops sleeping. The detective is consumed by a sense of guilt: shortly after arriving in Alaska, his partner dies on duty. A murder within a murder or an accident in the course of an investigation - it's hard to understand something when the sun does not go down, and a creepy detective writer looms nearby, who is suspected of killing a girl.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Genre: superhero action
After three not the most notable films, Nolan was entrusted with the story of Bats - a guy in a bat suit. Christian Bale for this role has transformed himself into a powerful crime fighter in just six months after the murderous transformation in The Machinist. Nolan made a serious and stylish movie for an adult audience out of comics, which even now in a stormy stream of comic book blockbusters is strongly distinguished by the quality of the plot, the elaboration of characters and dialogues. The entire trilogy entered the top 250 films from IMDb and KinoPoisk.
Batman Begins (2005)
Cast: Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
Here the bat will spread its wings. They will show Bruce Wayne's childhood, the first acquaintance with the cave, the death of Bruce's parents, his friendship with Rachel - the assistant prosecutor, the ideal grandfather-butler Alfred and Commissioner Gordon, whom Wayne hardly dug up in the corrupt dump of the Gotham police. Of the villains, there is Carmine Falcone - the local Godfather, the Scarecrow - a psychiatrist who is sick in the head, Victor Zsasz - a maniac who spent more than one year in the Arkham mental hospital, and the charismatic Ra's al Ghul, who is somehow not wanted in the Nolan trilogy call a villain.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
The fourth film on the IMDb rankings is Inception at thirteenth, Interstellar at thirtieth, Remember is at fifty-four, and The Prestige at forty-sixth. The Dark Knight is second only to The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfathers - that's how Nolan made believe that superheroism is serious. And Heath Ledger, who posthumously received an Oscar for his role as the Joker, became the first in history to receive this gold figurine for his role in a superhero movie.
So, the mouse took off and went to do good on a new level. True, no matter how high the mouse flew, the Joker flew higher - the army of fans of the criminal clown from this film will be larger than Batman's. Bruce Wayne here will have to ally with Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon, because it is impossible to defeat the mafia genius with the gift of persuasion alone (the pencil scene was filmed for two days - no computer graphics, only sleight of hand). And is it possible to defeat him at all - even after the arrest of the Joker, his actions continue to influence the fate of Batman and the whole of Gotham.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
The mouse has fallen. It hit the ground hard and broke its wings. Good deeds were too heavy a burden. And while grandfather Alfred is trying to get out of the unfortunate mouse, the evil Bain dreams of trampling the poor man. A cat hurries to help the mouse, but such an alliance does not look very reliable, especially when a terrorist from the League of Shadows and with ambitions to seize nuclear weapons is on the villainous side.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Kane, Piper Pekera, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Andy Serkis, David Bowie
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Cinema Cinema Picsoid: 9000 8.5
IMDb rating: 8.5
This film is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, but the Nolan brothers have seriously reworked the original source. The writer approved of the change: Priest was a fan of The Persecution and Remember, and for the sake of working with his filmmaker, he denied film rights to Sam Mendes, who had just managed to put the Oscars on the shelf after American Beauty.
Alfred Borden and Robert Angier were friends: since childhood, the guys were fond of tricks and worked together as assistants to a famous illusionist. The heroes grew up, but they did not leave their love for the stage and created their own show. The magic games ended in tragedy when Julia, Robert's wife, died during one of the performances. The magician blamed his friend - Alfred probably tightened Julia's knot incorrectly, and the woman drowned. Further magic is less, and blood is more.
The movie begins in the tradition of its director from the end. Or rather, from the beginning of the end, and the rest of the story, in which there was a place for brilliant engineering and Nikola Tesla himself, the audience will learn from flashbacks. A big help in this on-screen journey through the backstage of the illusionists is Michael Caine, Nolan's mascot. The hero of Kane will tell in detail how the "bait" works, what "transformation" is and why the film is called "The Prestige" at all. Dear Alfred remained a caring grandfather here too.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Ken Vatanab, Killian Murphy
Genre: Brain Explosion
Cineman Radio: 8.6
11 IMDb rating: 8.8
The same movie that took Nolan about ten years to make. The same movie, the ending of which is still being debated (although this has long been known). The very picture that can be reviewed immediately after the first viewing is that it is difficult to understand the world and the plot of Inception, and you should immediately come to terms with this rule of the game.
Dominic Cobb is a mental hacker. A man penetrates the victim's subconscious during sleep and takes out the information the customer needs from there. But one day a businessman approaches Cobb with an unusual task: he does not need to steal an idea from someone else's head, but to introduce his idea into the head of a young competitor. Cobb is a professional, and such a task for him is a great chance to end his career beautifully. The brain hacker recruits a team of the same pro-fanatics and develops a complex plan that in simple terms sounds something like this: put the victim into sleep, start a new dream from there, and find a loophole in the dream of sleep, and then everything will work out. When this becomes clearer, the audience will have another bonus: in the mind of Cobb, which must be perfectly clear to perform the operation, there is a pathology that can drag the entire team to where they do not return.
What we pay attention to:
- on Michael Caine - he is the main clue to the ending even with his three minutes of screen time;
- for the names of the main characters: the first letters of the names in the original add up to the key word for the film. And by the way, the word khwab in Sanskrit and Hindi can also be translated this way;
- to the revolving corridor stage - Gordon-Levitt did all the stunts himself. And yes, the corridor is not drawn, it is a real rotating layout;
The movie received eight Oscar nominations and won four technical awards for sound, sound editing, cinematography and special effects. In the nominations "Best Film" and "Best Original Screenplay", the picture lost to the film "The King's Speech!".
Cast: Matthew McConahi, Ann Hathaway, Michael Kane, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon
Genre: Very science fiction
Rating KinoPoisk: 8.6
A universal picture of how love and physics saved the world. The universality lies in the fact that the humanities in this movie will see cosmic optimism and faith in the all-powerful human soul, and techies will watch an excellent movie about space, in which there is a huge library in a black hole. And the coolest thing is that at the same time, those for whom physics and mathematics are something from the realm of nightmares will be able to at least partially understand the theory of relativity, and skeptics with three technical towers will be so carried away by the scientific side of cinema that they will eventually believe and by the power of love. Such is the three-hour film paradox.
The plot is based on the work of physicist Kip Thorne, a friend of Stephen Hawking. In the not too distant future, the Earth is depleted. Dust storms sweep away the remnants of greenery, drought finishes off everything that moves, humanity is doomed. But scientists from a top-secret base somewhere in the States believe all is not lost. Life ends on Earth, and people have a chance to destroy another planet with their consumer civilizations. You just need to find one where there is oxygen and water. A group of explorers embark on a space journey through a wormhole to find a new home for humanity.
Of course, the picture would cause a couple of chuckles from Sheldon Cooper. Jumping into a black hole, for example, is clearly a bad idea and is only suitable for the most expensive suicide in history. The same applies to ice clouds on one of the planets - here Sheldon generally covers his face with his hand. On the other hand, the theory of a round Earth was also once laughed at, and the film is a feature, not a documentary: Nolan has more hopes for love than for science.
Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
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Cast: Finn Whitehead, Tom Glinn Carney, Tom Hardy, Jack Lauden, Harry Styles, Kennet Bran
9000 : 7. 9
Military drama about the events of World War II. May 19On the 40th, French, Belgian and British troops were pinned down on the English Channel coast by the German advance. Four hundred thousand people looked hopefully at the sea and waited for evacuation, and while bombs fell from the sky, people went crazy with hunger and died from injuries. Salvation came, but not everyone waited. Other details are not needed - they will not be in the tape either, because "Dunkirk" does not talk about the operation in Dunkirk, it talks about the war in general. Cinema is as impersonal as possible: the Germans are not shown at all, and the main characters are deprived of on-screen biographies and characters. Because in war, no one cares what your views are and who you are according to the horoscope: you will be killed or you will be killed - that's all that matters here.
Nolan originally portrayed not only the war, depriving the close to historical picture of any historicity, but also time. Perhaps the director was preparing for "Argument": no fantasy, but over time, something incomprehensible happens here. The film is divided into three storylines: land, water and air, and each of them has a different duration. The soldiers on the beach suffered for a week, the boat of the evacuation fleet sailed for a day, and the pilots spent literally an hour in the sky. Nolan mixed all these lines, confused and brought them to the final at one point. What did it give: firstly, it introduced the viewer into a state of that same chaos, temporary disorientation, when fear for one's life does not leave the body for a second and when a fresh branch of hell opens around. Secondly, the director's idea was probably that time in extreme conditions is perceived differently: it is able to stretch and spread, as in an uncomfortable painting by Salvador Dali, and in other conditions it shrinks sharply, like the central point of an explosion, before how to burst. The fourth dimension is fickle and subjective, and it is the main character, whose character is the only one revealed in this movie.
"Best Sound", "Best Editing" and "Best Sound Editing" by the Oscars. Figurines for best film and director Christopher Nolan lost to Guillermo del Toro with his "The Shape of Water".
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine
Genre: spy thriller, killer sci-fi
Movie Search Rating: 8
IMDb rating: 7.9
The culmination of Nolan's filmography: a movie in which you don't even need to break the timeline with editing - the script here is already based on the idea of complex temporal relationships between the future and the past. It seems that this is exactly what the famous British-American director has been going to since the release of The Persecution and Remember, experimented with something similar in Inception, understood Interstellar and played in Dunkirk. And all this was just an affectionate prelude - in "Tenet" Christopher Nolan finally breaks the brain of the audience. Just like Bane Batman's spine is a great visualization.
Plot: a cool intelligence agent is faced with technology from the future - distant descendants have come up with a way to influence the past through inverted objects (you will have to get used to complex terms and theories on the run). Inverted things behave differently - they move in the reverse chronological flow relative to the given time. It looks beautiful, it sounds incomprehensible - so far everything is like in Inception, but based on the laws of physics. A cool scout quickly realizes that the people of the future are not friends to our generation, which means that something very bad may happen soon. The hero will have to stop the apocalypse semi-intuitively, as well as non-physicists viewers to understand the topic of entropy, the Wheeler-Feynman absorption theory and the paradox of the murdered grandfather.
A bit of clarity:
- The name of the painting is a palindrome. “Argument” in both directions is read as “argument”, which reflects the main idea of time streams moving towards each other;
- Tenet's original name is part of a famous Latin palindrome often written on talismans and gravestones. The palindrome sounds like this: ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR. We will leave the translation to the experts, but it will be clearer why the main evil Russian is called Andrei Sator, his company is called Rotas, and why everything begins and ends (if you understand) with opera;
- the GG does not have a name, but the word "protagonist" often sounds in the film. One of the versions of what the movie is really about is about finding an identity, its place and meaning; watch out for the red lace;
- Pattinson is great. This time, even for the haters.
Solomon Volkov: Joseph Brodsky had an amazing manner of carrying himself
Solomon Moiseevich, you have seen Joseph Brodsky more than once. My question is strange at first glance. And how tall was he? I remember, talking with you, Brodsky suddenly began to talk about the growth of Anna Akhmatova and Wisten Auden: they are, they say, "about the same height; maybe Auden is shorter."
Solomon Volkov: I clearly remember such a strange picture - I'm walking down the street of New York, the crowd is like an ocean - and it's cut like an ocean liner by a man who seems to rise above the crowd. And it was Brodsky. I didn't expect to see him in that crowd. He was of ordinary average height, but when he appeared, he really gave the impression of a tall man. Almost like Mayakovsky, who was undoubtedly taller than Brodsky.
It is no coincidence that Brodsky's physical growth seems to flow into a poetic dimension: when he walked with Anna Andreevna, "he always stretched himself. So that there would be no complex." Because she's "great".
Solomon Volkov: Joseph had an amazing manner of carrying himself, which he instantly stood out for. Apparently, this is already a property of personality. He made the same impression when he appeared at his lectures at Columbia University, which began our conversations. He entered the auditorium, cutting through the air, absolutely filling the entire space with himself. It had tremendous energy. People with such a rich inner potential really have a special energy.
Well, yes, no matter what poet you take, each one certainly has his own mystical trail. Apparently not by chance?
Solomon Volkov: Actually, I don't really believe in all these parapsychological things. But I have to state... Here in the photographs of Shostakovich - it seems that he is such a restrained, pathologically modest and shy person. But in his presence, everyone felt a huge electric charge, literally knocking down. Marietta Shaginyan, who had been in contact with Shostakovich from a young age, wrote how he came to visit her, they had a thick partition in their house, which was used to block rooms in Soviet apartments, but as soon as Shostakovich entered, this screen suddenly fell. Some waves from him, of course, emanated. And even more they were felt in the presence of Brodsky. This, of course, is already from the field of parapsychology, but it was, it was not invented. When such stories are told to me, I listen to them with skepticism. But with Shostakovich and Brodsky - yes, I felt that.
Let's get back to growth. Poets seem to have been worried at all times - which of them is higher, who is "first"? Poet or the first - or none. Where does this disease come from?
Solomon Volkov: It's not even about the poets. I think that this is generally a property of all people - everyone wants to seem like a significant creative figure. But ... when, say, Shostakovich, they began to say something like "Dmitry Dmitrievich, you are a genius," he always quickly denied: no need, no need, today they will say - a genius, tomorrow they will say - shit. As for Brodsky, on the contrary, he listened with great pleasure to such statements addressed to him. He could easily tell me, of course, that I know that I write better than others, otherwise why would I do this.
You know, there are many people who think they are geniuses, but they are not. In this case, we are talking about really brilliant talents - narrow-minded standards are not always applicable to them.
Brodsky, who came out of the circle of young poets who surrounded Akhmatova, preferred to speak of Tsvetaeva as his poetic teacher. Isn't it strange?
Solomon Volkov: For Brodsky, Marina Tsvetaeva was generally the central poetic figure. Do not understand why. I always preferred Akhmatova to her. Perhaps I do not like some kind of hysteria in Tsvetaeva's voice. The poetic technique is fantastic - and this, I think, was the first thing that attracted Brodsky. But Tsvetaeva does not, it seems to me, have the versatility that Akhmatova has.
Anna Andreevna impresses with her relevance. Poems written 100 years ago read like a modern woman's diary. The combination of religiosity and eroticism in her poetry, which Eikhenbaum drew attention to, is very relevant for an advanced intellectual modern woman.
Maybe I'm wrong, but Tsvetaev's slogans don't seem so relevant to me now. Although among women there has always been a huge number of fanatical fans of Tsvetaeva.
Brodsky just objected to you, repeating Tsvetaev's idea that a poem is a reorganized time: "Time is the source of rhythm... And the more technically diverse the poet, the more intimate his contact with time."
Solomon Volkov: Tsvetaeva's poetics was quite close to him, in contrast to Akhmatova's. But what is now called life-building, he learned to a great extent from Akhmatova. She was a great master of this life-building. And she, of course, confused her biography, veiled her personal life to the maximum possible extent, making it incredibly difficult for future researchers to work. Until now, for example, it is impossible to figure out which of her poems are dedicated to whom, why and how. She deliberately confused the dates, combined different addressees into one. Brodsky also did such things, by the way, not without the suggestion of Akhmatova.
What was Akhmatova's attitude towards Brodsky after all - indulgently? ironic? enthusiastically? After all, in your younger years you also talked with Anna Andreevna, came to her with musicians ...
Solomon Volkov: I think she was delighted that she found a kindred spirit in Brodsky. After all, she singled him out not in vain - with her intuition of a genius, she felt that of all the poets around her, Brodsky was the most significant figure. Another thing is that at the same time she played and "flirted" with everyone else, too. She had a special relationship with Bobyshev, a special relationship with Naiman - Brodsky's poetic friends of those years. But in relation to Brodsky, she precisely felt that in terms of that very life-building, he was taxiing to some very important milestones. She herself, all her life, from a very young age, built herself as a person, changing her personal position in accordance with what seemed to her at the moment more advantageous.
Didn't Brodsky get irritated by Akhmatova's famous phrase about "what kind of biography is being made for our redhead"?
Solomon Volkov: I never asked him about it - and he never talked to me about it. But I can say for sure, and I won’t reveal any America here, that despite the complexity of the story with the arrest of Joseph Alexandrovich, the trial, his stay in exile in the village of Norenskaya, with his life there, all this was, but all this was mythologized to limit. And in a sense, it worked for him, and he was absolutely not against such a development of the life story. Although, of course, his motives are not so straightforward. In Moscow, in 1964, friends warned me, persuaded me: don't go back to Leningrad, it won't end well. The fact that he nevertheless went - and was arrested - was, of course, connected with his love affair with Marina Basmanova, in the first place. But he went, relatively speaking, to his Golgotha, clearly understanding, I think, intuitively, that this is a very important step for his poetic biography.
At some point the connection became inevitable: Brodsky is a martyr. Remember his wonderful impromptu - "who made you a poet?" - he replies: "I thought it was from God." From such phrases, legends are formed as a result. And this phrase, of course, was legendary - but it had to be said at a time when few would have dared to do so.
Brodsky was reproached for not saying a kind word about the same Frida Vigdorova, thanks to whom the world received the transcript of the trial, and in general tried to avoid any words addressed to the people who helped him. I answered your questions about the link: I refuse to dramatize all this. You thought it was part of his aesthetic. What did you mean?
Solomon Volkov: This aesthetic of alienation is an incredible aspect of Brodsky's personality. This is how I recognized him here in America. It was a conscious choice, atypical for a Russian artistic figure. But here, in America, it is impossible otherwise.
Why? Discover this secret of the survival of the Russian emigration.
Solomon Volkov: Brodsky began to be imbued with the Anglo-American aesthetics of what is called understatement (deliberate underestimation of the positive characteristics of the object of speech - Ed.). Otherwise, you can't say. That is, such a restrained anglicized reaction to everything that happens to you, without dramatization. Emphasized cold, emphatically impersonal. As he always liked to say: the color of gray water, which is also the color of time.
He began to feel it in the Soviet Union. And this is very different from other poets, a hundred times. Neither Andrei Voznesensky nor Yevgeny Yevtushenko have this detachment, alienation from the events that are happening to you. On the contrary, they seem to throw themselves into a whirlpool and revolve in it with great enthusiasm. And this is a typical sixties trait.
For many readers, not at all the most thick-skinned, just this trait in poets has always seemed attractive.
Solomon Volkov: Brodsky is not a member of the sixties precisely in this respect. He is post-sixties, in my opinion. I'm trying to put into circulation this concept - post-sixties. Such were, besides him, both Schnittke and Tarkovsky. There were pre-sixties, proto-sixties, and there were post-sixties. So, having started entering this aesthetic back in the Soviet Union, Brodsky absorbed it very strongly when he got to the United States. He always liked it, he was drawn to it. In general, the influence of Anglo-American poetry on Russian culture before Brodsky was completely imperceptible. There was, say, Byron, who influenced Pushkin and all Russian romanticism. And after that, a huge break. Up to Brodsky, with whose light hand Russian culture showed interest in Auden, Frost. But here, in exile, it was still a matter of survival. He suddenly got from an atmosphere where "a poet in Russia is more than a poet" - to where, according to Kharms, in response to the words "I am a poet" you can hear: "No, you are a ...".
But what, after all, did Brodsky have in common with the sixties - even if he liked to "get away" from them?
Solomon Volkov: It was very interesting to watch Brodsky appear on stage here in New York at poetry readings with other American poets. An American poet, entering the stage, apologizes in advance that he is taking time from the most respectable public with his inappropriate and unnecessary verses. The American poet reads quietly, monotonously, shifting from foot to foot. There can be nothing more contrasting to the performance of, say, Yevtushenko or Voznesensky. And this is also what Voznesensky and Yevtushenko made such an impression on the American audience: they read noisily, brightly, and in Russian. There were translators at the same time, they were translated, but still in Russian.
Here Brodsky was close to them, here he was a member of the sixties: going out on the stage, he began to hypnotize the audience, shamanized on the stage. And again, before my eyes, more than once or twice he succeeded in this. The audience did not understand a word of Russian. But these shamanic howls of Brodsky on stage hypnotized the American public. And she gave up.
But in everyday life, shamanism alone is apparently not enough to survive here?
Solomon Volkov: In everyday life, you had to come to terms with the feeling that no one needed you as a poet. And then Brodsky worked out his own line of conduct - yes, all this does not concern me, nothing dramatic happened to me. Those who remind me: it was important in your biography, such and such people helped you - all this needs to be removed, pushed aside. The poet must be at the level of gray water. This is how a poet should be.
People who in emigration failed to absorb at least some elements of such an aesthetic life position died. All are broken. In America, surviving, thinking that you are a cultural genius and everyone should bow down before you, is a strategy doomed to failure in advance. Those who survived, like Brodsky and Baryshnikov, survived. I always call Baryshnikov the living lyrical hero of Brodsky. I am not going to compare him in any aspect with Brodsky, but as a model of behavior - Brodsky's model, let's call it so conditionally - his example turned out to be extremely important for me.
Brodsky was really painful or irritated at attempts to study his non-literary biography (although how can one separate "literary" from "non-literary" in a poet)?
Solomon Volkov: Yes. And which of the cultural figures you know is calm about such things? Everyone wants to control their life story. I don't know of any exceptions... Although there is a paradox here: Brodsky himself eagerly devoured all the biographical materials about people who interested him, about the same poets. He could well gossip: who, with whom, how and why. A significant part of his conversations with friends was this topic. But absolutely not about myself. He was horrified at the thought that someone would dig into his personal biography and tie him to certain figures. Let's say "New Stanzas for Augusta" - a book of poems dedicated to a certain named woman. But included are poems dedicated to other women too. In the interest of the wholeness of the poetic book, he went for such things. This is also from Akhmatova - complete darkness and confusion of all incoming and outgoing. Although many of his muses are still alive and every year more and more often break the vow of silence ...
Not every worthy poet was awarded the Nobel Prize, but Brodsky got it. How did he do it?
Solomon Volkov: Why Brodsky received the Nobel Prize, but, say, Voznesensky, Yevtushenko did not. Well, Yevtushenko still, very likely, will get it - it is impossible to predict such things. Bookmakers make good money on this, but their predictions, as a rule, do not come true.
Something else is interesting here. Both Voznesensky and Yevtushenko seemed to fit into American life, were friends with such authorities as Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, the Kennedy family. But these people had no influence on the decisions of the Nobel Committee. They themselves did not receive the Nobel Prize - neither Mailer nor Miller. And it is no coincidence that at some point the positions of this circle and those people who make decisions in the Nobel Committee diverged. And Brodsky, on the contrary, was in the circle that had authority for the Nobel Committee. This is already a question of the socio-cultural situation or a question of intuition. Brodsky became friends with Susan Sontag, who represented the European avant-garde or early postmodernism. And her interests coincided with the cultural preferences of the Nobel Committee. By the way, they listened to her very much.
And the fact that Brodsky began to write essays in English played a colossal role. Neither Voznesensky nor Yevtushenko did this. They remained convinced that they would achieve this with their poetry. But poetry is a matter of translation, thousands of other circumstances. About Brodsky, the Nobel Committee made up an idea mainly on two factors: on the history of the trial and on his essay. Poetry was in an additional package. In the same way as Pasternak - they allegedly awarded him for poetry. But, of course, if Pasternak had not written Doctor Zhivago, he would not see any Nobel Prize. Brodsky had the same story.
But in general, according to my observations, I do not presume to judge all countries - in America they are calm about the fact that many major authors did not receive the Nobel Prize. The real mysticism of the Nobel Prize exists only in Russia.
Speaking about the poets of the post-war generation, Brodsky singled out Boris Slutsky in particular. It would seem that a poet not at all close to him...
Solomon Volkov: I completely disagree with you. Brodsky always spoke with great sympathy about Slutsky as a person. And there is nothing to say about poetry at all - read it! Slutsky has worked so much for Brodsky's poetry - all this harsh manner with the use of everyday words. And this influence does not contradict the words of Brodsky that Slutsky ruined himself by the position, relatively speaking, of a political officer, an honest communist.
Now, for such clear life positions, poets are ready to be completely deleted from the history of literature - as if it had never happened.
Solomon Volkov: There is no irony in my words. I have respect for many wonderful people, although they kept such a conditional position of an honest communist until the end of their days. Anatoly Naumovich Rybakov, the author of "Kortik" and "Children of the Arbat", lived across from me and we met very often. He was and remained a convinced Trotskyist. And he hated Stalin precisely not as some kind of anti-Stalinist, a Western-style intellectual, but as a man whose ideal was a just society, freed from class stratification, a terrible difference in earnings - from everything that fully characterizes today's wild capitalism, in America and Europe ... So - no, Slutsky was very close to Brodsky. He simply regretted that Slutsky had shrunk himself to the size of a voluntary artificial cage. But this is already a tragedy or, on the contrary, Slutsky's luck, for whom it is.
When the current sad events in Ukraine began, Brodsky's poem "On the Independence of Ukraine" immediately flashed on the Internet - not at all complimentary to independent feelings. Some were inspired by Brodsky's unexpected patriotism, while others, on the contrary, showered him with curses. And they immediately doubted the authenticity of the poems, seeing, as usual, in them "Kremlin propaganda". This is a poem by such an imperial poet. To what extent does it explain Brodsky?
Solomon Volkov: I have always considered Brodsky an imperial poet. And the theme of empire is very important to him. Why didn't he stay in Europe? Why did he go directly from Russia to America? He changed the Soviet empire to an anti-Soviet empire. But this feeling was important to him, that he lives in an empire, that he is part of an empire. He has many thoughts on this subject. Hence his love for the St. Andrew's flag, hence our conversation with him about a poem dedicated to Marshal Zhukov, which could well have appeared in due time in the Pravda newspaper. Brodsky recalled how much in connection with this poem he had to swallow everything from emigrants, especially the Balts and Ukrainians, here in the United States.
He spoke periodically as an imperial poet. One can see a contradiction in this. But any huge figure consists of sets. Was Pushkin an imperial poet? Of course there was. "Slanderers of Russia" and "On the anniversary of the Battle of Borodino" - these are imperial poems. If they are reprinted today, imagine how Pushkin would be attacked from all sides. And the verses are wonderful and, again, fit into the current.
The leaflet with the poem "For the Independence of Ukraine" given by Brodsky is in my archive, it is a copy from his typewriter. You can treat this as you like, in accordance with political views. But to deny that this is a strong poem, in my opinion, no one will.
Brodsky regretted that he had not written his "Divine Comedy", some kind of monumental work, novel, epic. And where do you think you need to start the path to Brodsky, what is the main thing in it?
Solomon Volkov: Probably, if absolutely, absolutely, then I would advise you to open the Part of Speech first, on the one hand. And New Stanzas for Augusta, on the other. Purely love lyrics - and Brodsky with a more philosophical tinge. There is such an idea that he is a complex, inaccessible poet. This is not true. It is amazing how many poetic aphorisms Brodsky entered into everyday life. I do not know how it is now, but in our time, when people met, they "sniffed" each other with the help of quotes. If a person responded, say, to the Oberiuts, Oleinikov, Kharms, Zabolotsky early, it means his own. Now this is gone, a quote from Oleinikov - "Typical vulgarity reigned in his small head" - they will no longer recognize, they need to be explained.
And Brodsky broke into a huge number of quotations. "It's like life is swinging to the right, swinging to the left." This is the 61st year, his first famous poem - "Christmas Romance". Or "In the village, God does not live in the corners, as scoffers think, but everywhere." Is it definitely associated with Brodsky? No. And here's another: "Rear thoughts are stronger than the front" from "Speech on Spilled Milk." "I hugged those shoulders, and looked at what was behind." What is it about? Words are so connected to one another that you remember them for a variety of reasons.
At home, my wife Mariana and I quote Brodsky all the time. "On a winter evening in Yalta" - "Pour you this abomination? Pour it." Or I still love prosaic Broadskyisms. "If I were freer, both externally and internally, by the way" ... "Dialogues with Brodsky" is my only book that I re-read from time to time. I think that among the new reading and thinking generation, Brodsky is the most cited author in communication. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that this is so.
And you don't get annoyed - when, while praising one poet, let's say, the same Brodsky, they certainly try to trample down all the others. It's unfair - but fashionable?
Solomon Volkov: The fact that once, on May 24, 1940, Iosif Alexandrovich Brodsky was born in Leningrad is just an accident. Could not be born, or someone else would be born. And a miracle happened. Gogol once wrote that Pushkin is a Russian man, as he will be in 200 years. Yes, nothing like that happened. The Russian man did not become like Pushkin.