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A Companion to Pablo Neruda

A Companion to Pablo Neruda: Evaluating Neruda's Poetry

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to Pablo Neruda
    Book Description:

    Pablo Neruda was without doubt one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century but his work is extremely uneven. There is a view that there are two Nerudas, an early Romantic visionary and a later Marxist populist, who denied his earlier poetic self. By focussing on the poet's apprenticeship, and by looking closely at how Neruda created his poetic persona within his poems, this Companion tries to establish what should survive of his massive output. By seeing his early work as self exploration through metaphor and sound, as well as through varieties of love and direct experience, the Companion outlines a unity behind all the work, based on voice and a public self. Neruda's debt to reading and books is studied in depth and the change in poetics re-examined by concentrating on the early work up to Residencia en la tierra I and II and why he wanted to become a poet. Debate about quality and representativity is grounded in his Romantic thinking, sensibility and sincerity. Unlike a Borges or a Paz who accompanied their creative work with analytical essays, Neruda distilled all his experiences into his poems, which remain his true biography. Jason Wilson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, University College London.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-623-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    Pablo Neruda was a great love poet. Love poems form the core of his abundant output and he wrote his love poems from the start to the end of his career as a poet.¹ In 1971 he told a Mexican interviewer that love was his main theme: ‘I have written ten books about love.’ To the next question about politics, he denied that it was essential to his poetry: ‘What is essential? It is to discover what one truly feels at every moment of life.’² This ambition can be located at the very start of Neruda’s career as a poet...

  5. 1 The 1920s: from Crepusculario to Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada
    (pp. 27-76)

    Neruda published his first book of poems in 1923, at his own expense (selling, for example, his father’s gold watch, a parting present) in order to afford the 180-paged, but not paginated,Crepusculario. The second edition appeared in 1926, with a third in 1937, confirming its popularity. The earliest poem in this anthology of his early work, divided into five sections, dates from 1919 when he was 15 years old. Already at this early age, a critic, Raúl Silva Castro, had predicted the arrival of a talented poet.¹ Another of Chile’s prominent critics, Alone, who helped Neruda with money to...

  6. 2 The 1920s: from El hondero entusiasta to El habitante y su esperanza
    (pp. 77-92)

    Hernán loyola, in his notes to Neruda’s complete poems, establishes the genealogy of this aborted collection, as an ambitious project begun in the early 1920s, concurrently with theVeinte poemas de amor.¹ Neruda tucked them away until he returned to Chile from the Far East in 1931 and published a selection of these poems. He prefaced them with an ‘advertencia del autor’ [foreword] and blamed their defect on too close an imitation of the uruguayan poet Carlos Sabat Ercasty (1887–1982), whose work he had reviewed.² They exchanged letters (four extant, PN5, 932–5), and Sabat Ercasty agreed that he...

  7. 3 The 1920s and 1930s: Residencia en la tierra 1
    (pp. 93-140)

    Between the publication of hisVeinte poemasin 1924 andResidencia en la tierrain 1933, Neruda lived what I will call his years of loneliness in the desert, or his season in hell. A brief chronology begins in Chile in 1925, then finds him in Rangoon in October 1927, then Calcutta in November–december 1928, Ceylon (Sri lanka) in 1928, batavia (Jakarta) in 1930 and back in Chile in 1931 (with further trips to Japan and China). but place names do not figure in the poems, such is the intensity of introspection. There is something uncanny in his awareness...

  8. 4 The 1930s: Residencia en la tierra II and Tercera residencia
    (pp. 141-167)

    Poem 9 from Neruda’s 1924 collection of love poems was substituted by the following poem in 1932:

    Ebrio de trementina y largos besos,

    estival, el velero de las rosas dirijo,

    torcido hacia la muerte del delgado día,

    cimentado en el sólido frenesí marino.

    pálido y amarrado a mi agua devorante

    cruzo en el agrio olor del clima descubierto,

    aún vestido de gris y sonidos amargos,

    y una cimera triste de abandonada espuma.

    voy, duro de pasiones, montado en mi ola única,

    lunar, solar, ardiente y frío, repentino,

    dormido en la garganta de las afortunadas

    islas blancas y dulces como caderas...

  9. 5 The 1940s: from Alturas de Macchu Picchu to Canto general
    (pp. 168-193)

    The twelve-partAlturas de Macchu Picchuwas written in September 1945 at Isla Negra, and first appeared in a magazineRevista Nacional de Culturain Caracas in 1946. It was then published separately in Chile in 1947 as part of a recording, though Robert pring-Mill claimed it was 1948.¹ It reappeared as the second section of the ambitious but flawedCanto general, 1950, which paz labelled a ‘gran olla en donde hay de todo’ [a great stew in which there’s everything] and lists ‘arengas, diatribas, kilómetros de lugares comunes y de pronto, sin aviso, luminosos … esplendores’ [harangues, diatribes, kilometres...

  10. 6 The 1950s: from Los versos del capitán to Cien sonetos de amor
    (pp. 194-208)

    This scandalous book came to fill the vacuum that we noted concerning theCanto general, that is, the absence of erotic poems addressed to a woman by the poet Neruda. What was happening biographically is clear; Neruda abandoned delia del Carril for Matilde urrutia, who became his third wife and then his widow, and wrote about their life together inMi vida junto a Pablo Neruda (Memorias) [My life next to pablo Neruda, memoirs], 1986. The first 1952 publication in Naples of 44 copies of the love songs, as Neruda stated in successive editions, was anonymous because their affair was...

  11. 7 Post-1960s’ poetry: from Plenos poderes to La rosa separada
    (pp. 209-222)

    The constant and massive output of Neruda’s last decade until his death in 1973 from cancer, and then his eight posthumous collections, all prepared by the poet, constitute a critical challenge. These books consolidate his world status and his awareness of his readership. He had won the Nobel prize in 1971 and represented the ‘poet’ in the eyes of most Latin Americans. He is perhaps the most translated poet in Spanish ever (see my Appendix). His themes all related to his public self, even the love poems are ‘public’, avidly read by thousands.

    The collectionPlenos poderes(cleverly rendered as...

  12. Appendix 1 Pablo Neruda (1904–73): A Chronology
    (pp. 223-229)
  13. Appendix 2 Further Reading
    (pp. 230-230)
  14. Appendix 3 Neruda in English (books only)
    (pp. 231-236)
    (pp. 237-248)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 249-256)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-257)