Columbia Acquires Papers of Brodsky Translator & Biographer Lev Loseff

Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library has acquired the papers of Lev Loseff (1937-1999), noted Russian émigré poet, literary critic, professor of Russian Literature and Language at Dartmouth College, and a lifelong friend and authoritative biographer of Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996). 

This acquisition of about 40 linear feet (more than twenty-eight packing boxes) of manuscripts, poems, correspondence, photographs, autographed first editions, and subject files includes a plethora of Brodsky materials, and represents an important addition to the  already rich collection of Russian materials in the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture.

Born Lev Lifshits, Loseff was the son of Vladimir Lifshits, a well-known Russian poet.  He graduated from the Leningrad State University and soon after started writing poetry for Russian children’s magazines. In order not to be confused with his father, he changed his name to Loseff. 

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1976, and spent several years in Ann Arbor working for the Ardis Publishing House while obtaining his American doctoral degree.  In 1979, he accepted a position at Dartmouth College where he worked until his death.  In America he published twelve  well-received collections of verse and fiction in Russian, as well as numerous works of literary criticism. 

Joseph Brodsky’s correspondence, drawings, typed and holograph manuscripts, and books with inscriptions cover the period 1969 to 2001.  Some of the photographs cover an even earlier period in Brodsky’s life in Soviet Russia.  The collection also includes legal papers relating to Joseph Brodsky’s will.

Lev Loseff’s correspondence with well known Russian émigré intellectuals including Sergei Dovlatov, Ivan Elagin, Konstantin Kuzminsky, Leonid Rzhevsky is complimented by his research materials on these significant representatives of Russian Diaspora.

A collection of this magnitude offers valuable information on Russian émigré literary circles and sources of Russian scholarship in the United States. The Loseff Collection will also enhance the research and outreach activities of both the Harriman Institute and the East European Studies Center, both recipients of recent NEH Summer Institute grants for the study of America’s Russophone and East Central European communities. The Loseff collection constitutes an important complement to Brodsky materials already held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, The Russian National Library, St. Petersburg, and the Green Library, Stanford University.

The Library can provide users with limited access to the Loseff papers while they are being processed. Patrons should make an appointment by calling the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at 212-854-3986.

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