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Lyrical recollections of the late Chilean poet's frontier childhood, student years, diplomatic career, short-lived stint in the Chilean senate, flight and exile, 1952 homecoming, and final crowded years portray notable more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 127 x 195.58 x 22.86mm | 317.51g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • index
  • 0140046615
  • 9780140046618

Review Text

Neruda is an epic poet, a realist and a vitalist. He can give us a world as dark and disintegrative as anything in Lucretius, yet he invests it with a profusion of material images, secrets of the soul, the common, essential life of man. Memoirs itself is astonishing, not because it's particularly well-written (Neruda's florid prose is perhaps too Latin for Anglo-Saxon taste) or well-paced or poised (the arrangement is helter-skelter, fragmentary, anecdotal), but because it assumes so much grandeur on the part of humanity, gives so much substance to the poet's role. Despite his Communist beliefs, Neruda is always a universalist; he insists that poets must live by crossing every stream, that one's true nature lies in diversity and confusion, in tenderness, sorrow, anger, joy. When he speaks of his colleagues, he presents them in a recognizably human context: Alberti's "smile as bright as grains of rice," the poetry of Vallejo "as rugged to the touch as a wild animal's skin." Neruda's farflung diplomatic life (Burma, Java, India, the smell of "jasmine, sweat, coconut oil" in the streets of Ceylon); his experiences during the Spanish Civil War; his exilic wanderings in the Soviet Union and China after years of being a Chilean senator - all these evocations, recollections, travelogues have a brilliant, gusty expansiveness, romantic and commonsensical by turns. No doubt there will be those who'll find this highly flavored chronicle much closer to the 19th century than to our own demonized, neurotic era; but it is clearly the best account in English of Latin American politics, art, history that we have - vivid impressionism, wonderfully sympathetic and volatile, likely to be a classic of its kind. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,266 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 46% (1,037)
4 34% (769)
3 17% (374)
2 3% (61)
1 1% (25)
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