Take these ten highly successful individuals. All of them were recognized with Nobel Prizes, and all of them dropped out of school.
Their reasons varied: some were too poor, some were too bored, some were too unlucky. Yet all overcame an educational deficit and made a difference.
It’s worth noting that out of the ten Nobel Laureates to look at, two were for Peace, one for Chemistry, one for Physics, and the rest were for Literature. Apparently you don’t need no good edumacation to be writing swell.
10. Joseph Brodsky – Literature
Joseph Brodsky was born in the Soviet Union, at a time when poetry was meant to serve the state and reinforce its Communist values. This was unfortunate for Brodsky, a poet those verse tended to flow around themes of freedom and longing. It was only a matter of time before he would therefore attract the unwanted attention of the authorities.
Before he became a voice of dissent, he was a normal kid from Leningrad.
When he was 15, he dropped out of school and began working various jobs as he learned English and Polish, and began to write.
His poetry was not published to any great fanfare, but rather appeared only in underground forums. Yet it resonated with those who lurked in underground Russian forums at the time, and became quite popular. He was called the “most gifted lyric voice of his generation.”In 1963, a local newspaper in Leningrad called his work “pornographic and anti-Soviet,” which were damning words in that place at that time. He was interrogated. He was placed in an asylum, twice. Then he was arrested.
At his trial, they couldn’t actually find anything wrong with the content of his poetry. But in a scene worthy of Kafka, he was instead found guilty of “parasitism” for not performing his “constitutional duty to work honestly for the good of the motherland.”
He was sent to an Arctic labour camp for 5 years, but after transcripts of his secret trial made it outside the country and protests were shouted back from across the globe, he was released after only 18 months and returned home to Leningrad.
Now famous, his subsequent poetry was published to great fanfare and translated into many languages. His popularity grew worldwide.
Whatever the Soviet authorities had hoped to accomplish by sending Brodsky to a gulag, it had backfired spectacularly.
He continued to write, and be a thorn in the motherland’s side, until 1972 when he was shown the door out of Russia, and moved to the United States, where he wrote some more.
Although he never attended a university, he did teach at a few, and received an honourary Doctorate from Oxford University.
In 1987 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his body of work and “for all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity.
” It also called his writing “rich and intensely vital,” characterized by “great breadth in time and space.” He was 47 years old at the time. Many considered it amazing that he received the honour while still relatively young, but publicly Brodsky joked about it. “A big step for me, a small step for mankind,” he said.
In 1991, the Russian-born former gulag inmate was made poet laureate of the USA. Not too shabby for a dropout.