Not only was Pablo Neruda one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets but his life was an integral part of the history of the century. Pablo Neruda was born the son of a railway-worker and Memoirs opens with a lyrical evocation of his childhood in Chile, in what was still a frontier wilderness.
Neruda describes his bohemian youth in Santiago and his career as Chilean consul in Burma and Ceylon before the agony of his life during the Spanish Civil War. After the murder of his friend, Garcia Lorca, Neruda became a communist and a poet “for the people”. On his return to Chile he became a Senator before being forced into exile and he escaped from Chile, on horseback over the Andes, in 1949.
Written in Neruda’s vivid and unmistakable style Memoirs depicts an extraordinary literary and political world peopled with the artists, poets and leaders who were his friends: Lorca and Eluard, Picasso and Rivera, Ghandhi, Mao Tse-Tung, Salvador Allende and Che Guevara.
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.
“I laid my hands on the autobiography of Pablo Neruda [Memoirs]. I found it fascinating. I know his poetry, but I’d never read about his life, and afterward I could understand how the poems came out of this man.”
Wole Soyinka, ‘Time’, July 9th
“Now reissued… packed with marvellous details that give colour to the story, as well as providing a way of understanding how Neruda’s fascination with real things, in real places, gives a shape to even his most vatic poems.”
“His many books are the vast adventure story of his life, wars, travels, politics, and of course loves… The reader who knows no Spanish can be confident that, in reading Alastair Reid’s fine translations, he is reading Neruda… the memoirs are a delight; a ‘rattling good yarn’.”
“Enchanting and stylistically exhilarating… eloquent.”
“Latin America’s greatest poet… His Memoirs are regarded as one of the most absorbing and beautiful literary testimonies ever written.”
“Real evocation of the landscapes that were so important to him… In their energy, scope, and exceptional vividness, they alone would justify Neruda’s exalted position in modern literature.”