Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life

Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life

by Adam Feinstein
     
 

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"This is the first authoritative biography of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate. Born in to a poor family in southern Chile in 1904, Neruda achieved early fame with his book Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, and quickly gained prominence as a political figure as well. While he was Chilean consul in Spain, he became an active supporter of the…  See more details below

Overview

"This is the first authoritative biography of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate. Born in to a poor family in southern Chile in 1904, Neruda achieved early fame with his book Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, and quickly gained prominence as a political figure as well. While he was Chilean consul in Spain, he became an active supporter of the Republican cause; within ten years, his outspoken criticism of Gonzalez Videla's regime in Chile put him at risk in his own country. He lived underground for a year before finally fleeing Chile in a dramatic escape into exile." "As his poems made him a household name throughout the Spanish-speaking world and won him international acclaim, including the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature, Neruda married three times and endured the early death of a daughter, finally finding domestic idyll as Isla Negra with his third wife. He also forged close friendships with some of the greatest writers and artists of his time, including Lorca and Picasso. And he maintained a controversial loyalty to Stalin even after the horrors of the gulag were revealed." Adam Feinstein draws on revealing interviews with those who knew Neruda best, including his closest friends and surviving relatives, as well as newly discovered documents in South America, the United States, and the former Soviet Union. Published on the occasion of Neruda's centenary year, this biography provides the first full portrait of a man whose dramatic times, dynamic poetry, commitment to social justice, and joie de vivre made him an icon of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
"[Feinstein's] book turns Neruda's life into an opera - a blend of aria and recitative."

— Andrew Motion

Publishers Weekly
This year marks the centennial of Nobel laureate Neruda's birth. Neruda, who died in 1973, was considered among the greatest poets of the past century and a man full of passions and contradictions who, despite his efforts to sing his political views, is also remembered as a poet of love. This biography follows Neruda from his precocious poetic beginnings to his wanderings as a diplomat in Asia, Argentina, France, Spain and Mexico. Journalist and translator Feinstein recounts how Neruda saved the lives of many republicans during the Spanish Civil War and how his activism in Chile's Communist Party forced him into exile in 1948. Neruda crossed the Andes to travel yet more through Europe and America, where he befriended such famous men as Lorca and Picasso. Back in Chile in 1952, after writing many great books, Neruda ran for the presidency and his commitment to social justice strengthened. But Feinstein also examines the other constant in the poet's life, love,detailing his three marriages and innumerable love affairs, including plenty of bittersweet stories in an attempt to clarify the often fantastic versions of Neruda's own memories. Feinstein undoubtedly researched every existent source and found new ones, and the result is a detailed and accurate biography. His dry writing fails to bring the poet alive on the page, but this is a necessary book, with many beautiful photos. Agent, Victoria Hobbs. (Aug.) 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.
Guardian
"Fueled by an infectious enthusiasm for the poems...[Feinstein's] book turns Neruda's life into an opera-a blend of aria and recitative."
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"In Pablo Neruda, the best biographical detail is found in the poetic line, and the nuanced understanding of each line is in turn informed by the biographical...Feinstein never lets the political eclipse the poetic."
The Times (London)
"A scrupulous, well-balanced and timely portrait."
The Independent
"A magnificently researched work that guides the reader though a potentially overwhelming amount of material... Feinstein brilliantly elucidates the two main driving forces behind Neruda's life and work: his obsession with women and no less passionate commitment to left-wing politics."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582344102
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
08/07/2004
Pages:
510
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

Adam Feinstein is a prize-winning translator of Spanish and Latin American poetry, as well as a journalist and broadcaster specializing in foreign affairs. He lives in London.

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