The memoirs Brodsky didn’t want you to read

In April, Ellendea Proffer Teasley came to Moscow to present her husband's memoirs about Brodsky, whom the Proffers knew better than anyone else among those closest to the poet. The memoirs also speak about widows of famous writers who preserved their literary legacy in difficult Soviet times. (Corpus publishing house, 2017, translated by Victor Golyshev and Vladimir Babkov)

Together with Ardis, the Michigan-based publishing house they established solely for Russian literature, the young American professor Carl Proffer and his wife Ellendea published literary works in both English and Russian that were banned by Soviet authorities. These included works by Nabokov, Brodsky, Zamyatin and other authors.
Starting in 1969, the Proffers, who specialized in Russian literature and had perfect command of the Russian language, traveled to the USSR many times, met legendary people of letters, received "dangerous" manuscripts and sent them to the West.
Shortly before his death in 1984, Carl Proffer decided to write down his recollections, and his wife later published his book, The Widows of Russia. However, certain parts of the book, especially memories of Brodsky, were not published at that time. The capricious Russian poet did not want published what Carl had to say, and he even threatened a lawsuit, despite his long friendship with the Proffers.
"I think he felt betrayed that his friend Carl looked at him objectively and that he permitted himself to speak sharply about certain moments," said Ellendea.
Proffer and Brodsky's first encounter was in Leningrad during one of the Proffers' first visits to the USSR. Osip Mandelshtam's widow, Nadezhda, insisted they meet this interesting poet. "It's not clear how she understood that we would play a decisive role in his fate," said Ellendea.
The Proffers met Brodsky and his friends many times. They held his poetry in high esteem, frequently published his poems in the U.S. and helped him after he came to America. Carl eventually found Brodsky a teaching job at Michigan University, where he himself worked. 
In 2015, Ellendea presented her recollections about Brodsky to the Russian audience with her book, Brodsky Among Us (Corpus publishing house). "I was surprised that Joseph was considered practically a state poet, a martyr, since he was not one at all." She wanted to tell people what he was like in reality: he himself wanted to leave the Soviet Union, that no one kicked him out and he did not want to return there after Perestroika.
Also, as his friend, Ellendea found it strange to see monuments and museums dedicated to a person who is more alive than anyone. In her memoirs, Brodsky is very lively, sometimes nervous, sometimes arrogant, but definitely a person with incredible talent and charisma. She was impressed by his attitude towards his vocation. He truly thought that a poet has an important mission.
She spoke about the first years of his teaching American students. At first he was a horrible professor, with bad English. "In America, the first four years of university students do not have a specialization. Among his students were mathematicians, biologists, but he thought they had to know everything! If they didn't know everything that he knew, which was an enormous range of literature or Greek mythology, he thought they were ignorant." Later, however, he softened his attitude and adapted to the American system.
Ellendea's memoirs contain excerpts from her husband’s diary. "I was often asked what these excerpts are, since they were never published. And in the end, I decide to reveal them."
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