In Isla Negra Pablo Neruda set out to explore his landscape, his roots and experience in an attempt to gather into unity the various “lives” he had left behind in the huge span of his writing career. From the more than a hundred poems he created a poetic autobiography centred round his home of Isla Negra.
Neruda had come to consider Isla Negra, a small village on the Pacific coast of Chile, as the centre of his world. The poems move from childhood impressions and awakenings through his early loves, travels and the dawning of his political awareness to self-scrutiny and self-definition. Among their variety Neruda embraces the apparent contradictions of his life. Through-out the poems present and past interact, and this collection becomes the most revealing of Neruda’s long career. The poems of Isla Negra display the astonishing abundance of the human imagination when mingled with memory
Pablo Neruda, the pen name of Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born in 1904 and became a central figure in every poetry movement of the twentieth century. Neruda had a controversial political career, he served as a diplomat for Chile in many countries, including Spain during the Spanish Civil War and rose to be the Chilean Ambassador to France. However, in 1949 he was forced to flee Chile, crossing the Andes to escape, and lived in exile until 1952. Asked to stand in Chile’s Presidential election in 1969 Neruda stood down in favour of his close friend, Salvador Allende. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and died in 1973.
“Pablo Neruda moves fast, and Reid follows alertly, ingeniously; his translations in this book are superb.”
Robert Bly, ‘New York Times’
“From these humble beginnings he went on to become possibly his country’s most famous son… as well as creator of some of the century’s most memorable and beautiful poetry.”
“A passion to connect poetry to everything… There are those still who want to keep poetry esoteric and elitist and away from the quotidian. Like it or not, though, the opposite to this was Neruda’s self-appointed project, and it has a lot to do with the fact that his poetry is so enduringly popular.”
Matthew Sweeney, ‘Poetry London’
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