The most definitive biography to date of the poet Pablo Neruda, a moving portrait of one of the most intriguing and influential figures in Latin American history
Few poets have captured the global imagination like Pablo Neruda. In his native Chile, across Latin America, and in many other parts of the world, his name and legacy have become almost synonymous with liberation movements, and with the language of erotic love.
Neruda: The Poet’s Calling is the product of fifteen years of research by Mark Eisner, writer, translator, and documentary filmmaker. The book vividly depicts Neruda’s monumental life, potent verse, and ardent belief in the “poet’s obligation” to use poetry for social good. It braids together three major strands of Neruda’s life—his world-revered poetry; his political engagement; and his tumultuous, even controversial, personal life—forming a single cohesive narrative of intimacy and breadth.
The fascinating events of Neruda’s life are interspersed with Eisner’s thoughtful examinations of the poems, both as works of art in their own right and as mirrors of Neruda’s life and times. The result is a book that animates Neruda’s riveting story in a new way—one that offers a compelling narrative version of Neruda’s life and work, undergirded by exhaustive research, yet designed to bring this colossal literary figure to a broader audience.
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About the Author
Mark Eisner is a writer, translator, and documentary filmmaker. Neruda: The Poet’s Calling is the product of fifteen years of in-depth research, including many primary interviews with members of Neruda’s intimate circle, who offered rare insights into this mysterious public figure’s life.
Eisner is the editor of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights, 2004), which since its publication has consistently been the bestselling edition of Neruda’s poetry in the U.S. He served as the principal literary translator for that edition, which also included translations by Robert Hass, Forrest Gander, and Stephen Mitchell, as well as an introduction by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Eisner is producing a documentary about Neruda, slated to appear in early 2018 with the support of Latino Public Broadcasting. An initial, short version of the documentary, narrated by Isabel Allende, received a Latin American Studies Association Award of Merit.
He is writing an introduction for the first-ever English translation of Neruda’s Venture of the Infinite Man. He is also also the translator of Tina Escaja’s book-length poem Free Fall / Caída Libre (Fomite Press, 2015), and co-editor of an anthology of Latin American Poetry in Resistance forthcoming in Spring of 2017.
Mark Eisner is a sought-after speaker on the life and work of Pablo Neruda, at venues ranging from embassies to universities, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Masters in Latin American Studies from Stanford University, where he has also served as a Visiting Scholar.
Table of Contents
Author's Note vii
1 To Temuco 13
2 Where the Rain Was Born 27
3 Awkward Adolescence 41
4 The Young Poet 53
5 Bohemian Twilights 73
6 Desperate Songs 95
7 Dead Gallop 121
8 Afar 147
9 Opium and Marriage 171
10 An Interlude 193
11 Spain in the Heart 217
12 Birth and Destruction 231
13 I Picked a Road 265
14 América 287
15 Senator Neruda 317
16 The Flight 341
17 Exile and Matilde 357
18 Matilde and Stalin 383
19 Fully Empowered 421
20 Triumph, Destruction, Death 443
21 The Flowers that Sleep 465
Appendix I Selected Poems in Their Full Length 507
Appendix II On the Importance of Poetry in Chile 517
Basic Chronology 523
Books by Pablo Neruda and Their Selected In-Print English Translations 527
Selected Bibliography of Secondary Sources 531