Alexander Piatigorsky

A Poet Called on Me Yesterday

This letter was sent by philosopher Alexander Piatigorsky to semiotician Yuri Lotman on 20 August 1967. Property of the Yuri Lotman Archive, Tartu.

Dear Yuri Mikhailovich!
I am sorry for bombarding you with requests, but this time I nevertheless choose to do so. Yesterday a poet Iosif Alexan­dro­vich Brodsky called on me. He drank some tea and ate some melon, and was humble, quiet, ultimately sombre, discontent, annoyed, and unhappy.
He begged me—almost kneeling at my feet—to ask you to pull some strings for him. Here is the case. He badly, badly wants to get a job on the island where Svetlan stayed, or some other place where he would find solitude and concentration, besides a crust of bread of course (he is saying he would be happy with a room in a hut and 60 to 70 roubles a month). He is about to have a son, and does not want to be a drag on his folks. He reckons that after having taught Russian language and literature for a year or so he will try to enrol in distance learning.
Yuri Mikhailovich, pray let him know if that is possible, and if it is, he is ready to set off to Tartu immediately. His address is: L-d, D-28, Liteyny 24, flat 28 (tel. z-8-47-37).

I feel sorry for him. Unlike yours faithfully, he is only 27, not 38. I was nearly happy at that age, and I think it is too soon to be unhappy, unless of course the man is unhappy by nature.
Pray do not take it as forwardness on my part, for it is for myself rather than someone else that I should be asking patronage in the face of Destiny.
Yesterday at Borya’s petite soirée, we, just the two of us without Agafya, received Kristina Pomorskaya, the Mrs. Jakobson. It was very nice and all. I finally did start writing the article for you and Borya.
That is what there is to it.
Please kiss on my behalf the hand of the most charming Zara Grigoryevna and the heads of Alexei, Grigory, and Mikhail.

Yours truly,
A.M. Piatigorsky
Moscow, 20 VIII 1967

From Spring 2016 issue

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