Canto General, 50th Anniversary Edition / Edition 1

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Overview


Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

Neruda was a kind of King Midas. Everything he touched turned to poetry, says Gabriel García Márquez, who also considers the Chilean Nobel laureate "the greatest poet of the twentieth century, in any language." [The Fragrance of Guava, 1983]. The Canto General, thought by many of Neruda's most prominent critics to be the poet's masterpiece, is the stunning epic of an entire continent and its people. The Canto speaks of the destiny of Latin American peoples and the life of the poet himself. Without question, this is one of the most important and powerful long poems written in the modern period.

Thought by many to be Neruda's masterpiece, Canto General is the stunning epic of an entire continent and its people. Although some parts of the poem have been translated, this is the first time it has appeared in its entirety in English. "A consistent, readable version . . . a major achievement."--Don Bogen, The Nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Comprising 15 sections and over 300 separate poems, this epic traces the history of Spanish America from the pre-Colombian innocence to present corruption. Despite the heavy-handed, overt, and somewhat dated Communist propaganda, the permanent value of this masterpiece lies in the personal prophetic vision, grandiose scheme, and heterogeneity of verse forms. Neruda coalesces contrasting styles, from the sublime, almost mystical lyricism of self-exploration in ``The Heights of Macchu Picchu'' to the prosaic, oratorical bombast of ``The Sand Betrayed.'' Although excerpts have been previously translated and regularly anthologized, this landmark edition, accurate and literal, marks the first time this monumental work appears in English in its entirety. Recommended.-- Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC, Dublin, Ohio
Booknews
The masterpiece of the greatest poet of the 20th century, and thus one of the central productions of modern poetry, the 15-part Canto, containing some 300 poems, is a visionary epic of Latin America and its people, akin to nothing more than Whitman's Leaves of grass. Although some parts of the Canto, including The Heights of Macchu Picchu, have been translated, this is the first English- language appearance of the Canto on its entirety, and the translation, by Jack Schmitt, is a remarkable accomplishment in its own right. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520227095
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/23/2000
  • Series: Latin American Literature and Culture Series
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 423
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was born and died in Chile, but as a member of the diplomatic corps and later as a sort of roving cultural ambassador, he lived in and visited many parts of the world. His first book of poetry was published before he was twenty, and Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, published the following year, made him famous throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Besides the Canto and the Elemental Odes series, the major works of his vast poetic production include Residence on Earth and Estravagario. Jack Schmitt is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at California State University, Long Beach, and translator of Raul Zurita's Anteparadise (California, 1986). Reviewing Zurita's Anteparadise, critic W. S. Merwin called Schmitt a sensitive, precise, dedicated translator (Los Angeles Times Book Review).Roberto González Echevarría is Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative, among many other works.Margaret Sayers Peden is Professor Emerita of Spanish at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The author of Emilio Carballidoand editor of The Latin American Short Story, A Critical History, she has translated more than twenty works of fiction, drama, and poetry.

Biography

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried Doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls' secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily "La Mañana," among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia -- his first publication -- and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal "Selva Austral" under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterized by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, consul general in Mexico, where he rewrote his "Canto general de Chile," transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto general, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda's production. Shortly after its publication, Canto general was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla's repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las uvas y el viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda's exile. In Odas elementales (1954-1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns -- things, events and relations -- are duly presented in alphabetic form.

Neruda's production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife, Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.

Pablo Neruda died in 1973.

© The Nobel Foundation 1971

Good To Know

Always a political activist, Neruda was an anarchist for a time, but joined the Communist Party of Chile in 1945. He actually ran for president of Chile but eventually left the race to support Salvador Allende.

He had three wives throughout his lifetime: Mar a Antonieta Hagenaar, Delia de Carril, and Matilde Urrutia. He married Mar in 1930, but they divorced in 1936. He lived with Carril from the 1930s until they divorced in 1955 (they married in 1943). In 1966, he married Urrutia.

Neruda owned three homes in Chile that are open today as museums: "La Chascona" in Santiago, "La Sebastiana" in Valpara, and "Casa de Isla Negra" in Isla Negra, where he and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, are buried.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 12, 1904
    2. Place of Birth:
      Parral, Chile
    1. Date of Death:
      September 23, 1973
    2. Place of Death:
      Santiago, Chile

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