The Book of Questions

The Book of Questions

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by Pablo Neruda

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A new bilingual Spanish-English edition of Neruda's famous Book of Questions, a Copper Canyon bestseller.


A new bilingual Spanish-English edition of Neruda's famous Book of Questions, a Copper Canyon bestseller.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 74 poems in this collection consist entirely of questions. These questions appeal to the reader to supply images not answers. Exploiting the lag between perception and understanding, the Nobel laureate's poems evoke pictures that make sense on a visual level before the reader can grasp them on a literal one. The effect is mildly dazzling: ``Where did the full moon leave / its sack of flour tonight?'' Composed during the final months of a fatal illness, these poems are also pervaded by an autumnal atmosphere: ``Why do leaves commit suicide / when they feel yellow?'' Yet Neruda's characteristic depiction of life and death as cyclical allows him to be inquisitive and even playful toward his own mortality instead of despairing: ``Will your worms become part / of dogs or of butterflies?'' O'Daly's translations achieve a tone that is both meditative and spontaneous. His introduction, however, fares less well, in yielding to the misconception of Neruda ( Still Another Day ) as a kind of South American shaman rather than representing him as the shrewd and ironic poet he demonstrated himself to be even in minor works such as this. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Once called ``a one-man Renaissance,'' Nobel laureate and Chilean poet and statesman Neruda (1904-1973) wrote these 74 poems and 316 playful questions about death, nature, and rebirth in the last year of his life. Cryptic and intriguing, these brief answerless riddles, like Roethke's visionary poems, ask the sophisticated question of the innocent child--``Is the sun the same as yesterday's/ or is the fire different than that fire?''--and probe what it means to be human: ``Whom can I ask what I came/to make happen in this world?'' This volume is the last in a series of seven bilingual translations from this publishers of Neruda's late and posthumously published work. American poetry and readers benefit by having excellent English-language translations of all Neruda's complicated, prolific work.-- Frank Al len, SUNY at Cobleskill

Product Details

Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
Kage-an Books Series
Edition description:
Bilingual Edition: English & Spanish
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.20(d)

Read an Excerpt


Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?


And what did the rubies say
standing before the juice of pomegranates?

Why doesn't Thursday talk itself
into coming after Friday?

Who shouted with glee
when the color blue was born?

Why does the earth grieve
when the violets appear?

Meet the Author

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) held diplomatic posts in Asian and European countries. After joining the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate but was forced to live in exile in Mexico for several years. Eventually he established a permanent home on Isla Negra. In 1970 he was appointed as Chile's ambassador to France; in 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. William O'Daly is one of the most celebrated translators of the poetry of Pablo Neruda. He lives in California.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
July 12, 1904
Date of Death:
September 23, 1973
Place of Birth:
Parral, Chile
Place of Death:
Santiago, Chile
University of Chile, Santiago

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The Book of Questions 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pablo Neruda is much missed as a poet and thinker. Since his death in 1973 there has been an even stronger growing of appreciation for his unique style of writing. During his last days he composed this strange little collection of some 300-odd questions and a number of poems all dealing with the life cycle as only one who sees his end at hand can write. The subjects are death, rebirth and nature in as complete a marriage of intention as any poet has created. They are beautifully translated by William O'Daly. Intending his reader to be stimulated by his words to create a visual image that is personal, his questions from this volume so aptly titled 'The Book of Questions' open our eyes and our minds to some rapturously beautiful experiences. Examples: 'Why don't inanimate things do something? Where did a celestial body leave something tonight? Why don't they train helicopters to suck honey from the sunlight? Where did the full moon leave its sack of flour tonight?' Warmly humorous, touching and eventually elevating, the questions remain on the backs of our eyes awaiting reentry into our brains for relish at needy times. Neruda is a poet for all seasons. Just read this book and discover. Grady Harp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The last of Neruda's unpublished works reels his political beleifs closer to simplicity, which is to say they can be questioned just as love or people are. His battery of questions appeals to aspects of everyday life and brings meaning to them by both extol and embarrassment. I prefer the original manuscript; Spanish is the only language that can hold a candle to Neruda's style. However, this book's translation does hold truth to his originality. Like most of his work, The Book of Questions is hard to describe; for poetry can only be experienced first hand. I encourage any fan to pick up a copy, under the condition he/she present their imagination as well. Enjoy.