My Life with Pablo Neruda

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Matilde Urrutia was poet Pablo Neruda's lover, muse, wife, and widow. The Nobel-laureate Chilean wrote The Captain's Verses and One Hundred Love Sonnets—two of the most celebrated volumes of love lyrics in modern Spanish letters—for her. In My Life with Pablo Neruda, Urrutia reveals her side of their famed romance. But her book is not simply a love story told by a muse; it is also a document of her life as the persecuted widow of a national hero. Her voice lifts out of the sorrow and violence of the military dictatorship that precipitated her beloved's death in 1973, to reaffirm the power of Neruda's own passionate voice.

My Life with Pablo Neruda opens with the dramatic events of September 11, 1973, with Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Devastated by the coup, the sixty-nine-year-old Neruda dies a few days later of a heart attack. Grief-stricken, Urrutia takes refuge in her memories, reeling back through time to recount the heady early days of her twenty-two-year romance with Neruda. Here, she reveals the birth of The Captain's Verses and divulges the secrets of their illicit marriage in Italy. Urrutia then returns to the grim reality she faces in Santiago in the mid-1970s, to describe life under the dictatorship. Harassed by Pinochet's henchmen, she becomes an exile within her own country, mourns the torture and disappearance of loved ones, and finally awakes from the stupor of sorrow and commits herself to using Neruda's words to lash out against the bloody regime.

Reading My Life with Pablo Neruda is like spending a long afternoon with Matilde Urrutia. In a conversational style, she brings Neruda to life, and he emerges as a vibrant, playful, and impatient man driven by unbounded appetites. At once humorous and heart-breaking, Urrutia's story makes for a fine domestic complement to Neruda's own lush memoirs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In the category of personal accounts, Matilde Urrutia's autobiography is particularly important. She was not only the raison d'etre of One Hundred Love Sonnets but also the source of peace and domesticity in Neruda's mature life, and the keeper of

Publishers Weekly
Much like Chilean poet Neruda's own glittering lyrics, his muse and widow Urrutia has penned a memoir that sparkles freshly with a love of family, nature and homeland. Memorialized by the Nobel laureate in his poems as "Rosario" and as the woman with Medusa-like hair, Urrutia was first glimpsed by Neruda at a concert in 1946, but it was three years before they met again, when she became his nurse as he was recovering from phlebitis. Neruda had to flee Chile because of his political views, and Urrutia soon joined him, inaugurating this famed literary romance. Sandwiched between accounts of Neruda's death shortly after the Pinochet coup in 1973 and her own persecution by the Chilean government are Urrutia's lyrical reminiscences of her love with Neruda. "Our easygoing, playful friendship, which we had considered to be at most simply mischievous, had just transformed into a complicated battle of emotions. Now our relationship would bring us... an abundance of joy, but it would also bring us grief and desperation." Urrutia draws strength from her husband's writings after his death as she faces her fears of remaining silent in the face of injustice. Her graceful prose offers not only a glimpse of her life with the great poet but also a portrait of the nobility of suffering under an unjust political regime. B&w photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
These three publications add to the voluminous literature on Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda. Chilean photographer Poirot's work is essentially a reprint of an older edition of the same name. Poirot photographed Neruda's house on Isla Negra (the poet's last residence) and his townhouse in Valparaiso, which was sacked in 1973 when Chile fell prey to dictatorship. This new edition superimposes excerpts from Neruda's poetry on Poirot's very moving photos and features photos and testimonies of Neruda's closest friends and admiring writers. Urrutia, Neruda's third wife, provides a fresh new biography from her particular vantage. Her purpose is twofold: to present her Pablo as the exuberant, warm, and loving individual he was and to inform readers of the menace imposed by Chilean dictator Pinochet, who was responsible for the assassination of elected president Allende, Neruda's close friend. Urrutia's account is highly selective but well worth reading for another perspective on this great man. Feinstein, a writer and translator who has served as London correspondent for El Mundo, Spain's leading daily, recounts Neruda's efforts during the Spanish Civil War and resistance to two Chilean dictators, but he also attempts to clarify Neruda's controversial views of Stalinist communism. Numerous accounts of important people in the poet's life are presented staccato style, with one account often interrupting another, so that getting a sense of the chronology may be a challenge. Excerpts from Neruda's journals and poetry further add to the intensity of this biography. All three books are recommended for public libraries; Poirot's would serve academic libraries as well.-Nedra Crowe-Evers, Sonoma Cty. Lib., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804750097
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 867,862
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Matilde Urrutia was Pablo Neruda's muse and companion for more than a quarter of a century—first as the Chilean poet's secret lover, and eventually as his second wife. Her memoir, first published in Spanish in 1986 and more commercially in 1997, has not hitherto appeared in English. Alex Guardino is a free-lance translator, writer, and editor, and also a community college instructor.

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