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Neruda: The Biography of a Poet

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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 m 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 Biography of a Poet (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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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 m 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 Biography of a Poet (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.  

30 review for Neruda: The Biography of a Poet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Keith Taylor

    I have to admit that I had a couple of very unfair ideas about this book before I even cracked the cover. I was partly expecting a hagiography. I know that Eisner has spent much of his adult life researching Neruda. Even thought I deeply respect him for his devotion to his subject, I thought that perhaps the depth of that fascination might have allowed him to dismiss some of the more troubling aspects of Neruda's life. Oh, the usual things that smart young South Americans always bring up, as the I have to admit that I had a couple of very unfair ideas about this book before I even cracked the cover. I was partly expecting a hagiography. I know that Eisner has spent much of his adult life researching Neruda. Even thought I deeply respect him for his devotion to his subject, I thought that perhaps the depth of that fascination might have allowed him to dismiss some of the more troubling aspects of Neruda's life. Oh, the usual things that smart young South Americans always bring up, as they should, as they must -- the misogyny (even what was clearly rape in Sri Lanka), particularly of the younger Neruda; his callous dismissal of his hydrocephalic daughter; his Stalinism; his endless womanizing. But, once again, I was completely wrong! Eisner confronts those issues head on. He doesn't gloss over those things at all. He doesn't excuse them as occasional weaknesses. When he puts them in the context of the rest of the life, he doesn't allow them to be dismissed as the few frailties of genius. But he also doesn't allow them to take over the narrative. He doesn't dismiss the genius because of the frailty, even the cruelty. Neruda wrote so much, so incessantly, and the translations keep coming out 40 years after his death. Translations of poems, whole books, that had never been translated before. Neruda had an agenda for much of his life, and he was more than willing to bend his talent to support the agenda. That made for a bunch of forgettable poems. But the successes. Sweet god, the successes! "Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair." "The Heights of Machu Picchu." "The Elemental Odes." "The Captain's Verses." "Fully Empowerd." "Isla Negra." And a bunch of other poems, even books, that aren't coming to mind right now. Sometimes Neruda's assumption of the Whitmanian mantle seemed so strained (as Whitman's assumption did to his contemporaries), but while reading Eisner's biography it becomes clear that Neruda could do that. Maybe he had to do it. The best thing about this very readable, very big biography is that it takes us back to the poems. While reading this I had my volumes of Neruda spread out around my desk and chair. I ordered copies of books I must have given away to students over the years. I spent a couple of weeks covered in Neruda, and it was wonderful. In his Epilogue, Eisner has a little sentence that others might overlook. But for me, it is the essence of my readings of Neruda's poems. Eisner writes, " His poetry's fusion of raw sexual longing with potency of nature restores an essential connection between human beings and the natural world." For me, that has been the beauty of reading Neruda, and I am deeply grateful to Eisner for illustrating and articulating it so well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshunda Sanders

    I'm a big fan of Neruda and of Mark. I first interviewed Mark about Neruda as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2004, as the world prepared to celebrate the centennial of the beloved poet's birth. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel Allende about Neruda's impact on her work and on the world of letters at large. The world was different then, of course, though Neruda's legacy hasn't changed as much. This thorough and comprehensive biography reckons with Neruda as both a I'm a big fan of Neruda and of Mark. I first interviewed Mark about Neruda as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2004, as the world prepared to celebrate the centennial of the beloved poet's birth. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel Allende about Neruda's impact on her work and on the world of letters at large. The world was different then, of course, though Neruda's legacy hasn't changed as much. This thorough and comprehensive biography reckons with Neruda as both an important "people's poet" who brings to the fore important questions about what it means to be a political poet during times of unrest and turmoil and as a human being who would actually have to answer for being among those who would be called on being a deadbeat father, a womanizer who not only sexually assaulted at least one woman that Eisner reveals in this text but also referred to women in parts of the world unlike his own in imperialist, racist and problematic ways. This was the part of the book, nearly halfway through, that made me want to hurl the galley across the subway train and recycle all of the Neruda books that I own, and there are many. The truth is that I have not returned to his work in some time, and there are still some profound truths in his poems and in his passion for at least some of the women that he loved -- mainly Matilde, though he later goes on to have an affair with her niece -- that I know will resonate with me. There is a line toward the end of the book where Eisner refers to Neruda in "all his enduring complexity" and that's a phrase that for me could serve as a tag line for this biography -- it offers a wonderful portrait of a man who is more complicated than some of us might want to know.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Byrne

    Solid biography, thoroughly researched, brilliantly written. Neruda as a man was mostly a horror show, yet his poetry is unbeatable. This book is a fast read, very enjoyable sometimes making you want to punch the man Neruda. Couldn't put it down. Put it on your to-read list.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eve Ottenberg

    Many know that Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize laureate and Chilean poet, was a communist. Less well known is that until the 1960s, he was a diehard Stalinist. Though he had an understandable reason for this – Stalin was the only world leader to support the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, whose fascists murdered so many of Neruda’s friends – still his blindness about the dictator who slaughtered twenty million people is startling. Neruda never left the communist party. As Marc Eisner document Many know that Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize laureate and Chilean poet, was a communist. Less well known is that until the 1960s, he was a diehard Stalinist. Though he had an understandable reason for this – Stalin was the only world leader to support the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, whose fascists murdered so many of Neruda’s friends – still his blindness about the dictator who slaughtered twenty million people is startling. Neruda never left the communist party. As Marc Eisner documents in his new biography, "Neruda, The Poet’s Calling," the communists claimed him to the bitter end, finally and fearlessly right in the teeth of Pinochet’s fascist regime. Eisner’s description of Neruda’s 1973 funeral, after the coup and Allende’s suicide, is powerful: tens of thousands walked behind the coffin in defiance of Pinochet’s troops, who essentially had to stand down. “Communist youth of Chile!” A leader called out. “Companero [brother] Pablo Neruda!” And the crowd answered, “Presente! [he is present] Companero Salvadore Allende! Presente! Companero Victor Jara! Presente! Companero Pablo Neruda! Presente!” This, right under the eyes of the troops, defending the CIA-backed dictator. For Neruda, the Spanish Civil War was a formative experience. Though a renowned poet before it, that struggle permanently altered his character and art; his youthful melancholy vanished, as Eisner documents. Neruda’s rival Jorge Luis Borges said: “When he became a communist, his poetry became very strong. I like Neruda the communist.” After Spain, Neruda became “a people’s poet.” He argued for “a dirty poetry, grimy from the hands of the worker, smelling of both ‘urine and lilies.’” Heartbroken by the fascist murder of his great friend, poet Federico Garcia Lorca, he wrote 21 poems in response to the civil war, collected in "Spain in the Heart." His friend, Rafael Alberti, who fought in the civil war, called Neruda’s poems “sacred verses for us.” The list of writers who attended Neruda’s Second International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture, “as the bombs fell on Madrid,” reads like a who’s who of early twentieth century literature: Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Octavio Paz, Langston Hughes and many others. Later, campaigning in Santiago for a presidential candidate, Neruda read from "Spain in the Heart" to members of the porter’s union: “They were completely silent while he read. When he ended, many applauded…then a man…[a] leader of the union said, ‘Companero Pablo, we are a much forgotten people. I can tell you that we have never felt such great emotion…’ The worker started to cry, as did others.” As a diplomat, Neruda saved the lives of over two thousand Spanish Republicans, who would certainly have perished in Franco’s prisons and concentration camps, had he not arranged for a boat to bring them to South America and then for them to reside in Chile. Eisner writes: “Newspapers across the world described the venture, with Neruda, Chile’s ‘foremost poet,’ as The New York Tribune described him, identified as the director of the operation…One of the immigrants remembered: ‘The change could not have been more striking. We, the damnable reds, the humiliated, the dangerous, the murderers, transformed into heroes of democracy, treated marvelously, praised, cheered by crowds at the Mapocho station.’” Later there were accusations about Neruda conspiring against Trotsky in Mexico, there was his poem on Stalingrad, his campaigns for electoral office as a communist party candidate, his time as a senator, his poem against the United Fruit Company in Guatemala, more poems, his support for strikers, his newspaper articles throughout Latin America, his travels to the Soviet Union, his dramatic escape and exile from Chile during anti-communist years, when he could have ended up in a concentration camp for communists, run by the young Pinochet, his friendship with the radical Mexican muralists Rivera and Siqueiros, more poetry, his friendship with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many other writers, his meetings with Castro and Che Guevara, his frantic travels all over the world – what a life! Appended to this biography’s end are shocking allegations, made in recent years, that Neruda was murdered by Pinochet’s henchmen, while in the hospital for prostate cancer. He reportedly told his communist driver that he had been injected with poison. A few years ago, with the exhumation of his remains, it became clear that the official cause of death – cancer – was untrue. Whether these allegations of murder are confirmed remains to be seen. But it would not be surprising to learn that Neruda not only lived for his communist beliefs, but died because of them as well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ivana

    An absolutely spectacular book! **** Additional review- I feel that one sentence wasn't really worthy of this great book, so I will say this: this book destroyed my once-held view of my favorite poet, Neruda. And that is on me. I first "met" Neruda when I was a young twenty-something Spanish Literature major, and of course his "Poema XX" hooked me in for life. I read his memoir, his many books of poetry, and saw just about every movie that tried to examine his complex life. But this book...this bo An absolutely spectacular book! **** Additional review- I feel that one sentence wasn't really worthy of this great book, so I will say this: this book destroyed my once-held view of my favorite poet, Neruda. And that is on me. I first "met" Neruda when I was a young twenty-something Spanish Literature major, and of course his "Poema XX" hooked me in for life. I read his memoir, his many books of poetry, and saw just about every movie that tried to examine his complex life. But this book...this book did something else- it put him in the context. It exposed his many flaws (how did I not know about his first child whom he abandoned??) . He was a man who should be observed within the context of his geography, within the era, and a political landscape. For me, it was a particularly eye-opening book. I've overlooked so many of his flaws, but coming to know them so intimately through Eisner's book helped me understand him more. There were moments where I cussed him out and experienced feelings of anger and deceit, but then I realized...of course he was all these things. How could he have not been, given the trajectory of his life? I just love books like these. They can shift the metaphysical soil from under our feet and force you to re-examine firmly held belief. And that's just what a great book does, it is so valuable- be it a shifting of feelings about your favorite poet, or political views, or anything in between-the value of a piece of literature that makes you take a deep look in your understanding of something cannot be overstated. Additionally, this is probably one of the best researched books I've ever read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    Fascinating book that interweaves Neruda’s poetry with biography, world events from the 1930’s through 70’s, and Eisner’s own cautious reflections on how to understand the poet’s misogyny and other ills in the face of his heroism. A larger than life character with outsized ambitions and the mix of good and bad that seems somehow inevitable. I decided to read this after being spellbound by 100 Love Sonnets, which left me wondering just who the author was and what some of the larger significance w Fascinating book that interweaves Neruda’s poetry with biography, world events from the 1930’s through 70’s, and Eisner’s own cautious reflections on how to understand the poet’s misogyny and other ills in the face of his heroism. A larger than life character with outsized ambitions and the mix of good and bad that seems somehow inevitable. I decided to read this after being spellbound by 100 Love Sonnets, which left me wondering just who the author was and what some of the larger significance was of his persistent metaphors: bread, wine, the sea, the earth, etc. This biography doesn’t disappoint. I felt guided by Eisner’s empathetic, yet questioning spirit over the 500 some pages of careful scholarship. The only fault i saw in the book was that Eisner couldn’t seem to end it. Interviews at the end with a few Millennials on the importance of the poet today seemed superfluous and best left for a magazine article or blog.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darleen

    Sensitive and thoughtful, this biography allows the reader to enter into the inner world and the social/political world of Neruda. There is a depth of understanding here that makes this a model of biography.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book is 640 pages long and I didn't want it to end. Now that's saying something! When I arrived at the last page, I did not want it to be over. Can never get enough Neruda! I am enamored with and impressed by "Neruda: The Poet's Calling" by Mark Eisner. It is truly a masterpiece. A labor of love. The entire book is luminous, poignant and stunning. Pablo Neruda is one of my most favorite poets, and I'm so grateful to Mr. Eisner for all the work and love he's poured into Pablo Neruda's Biogra This book is 640 pages long and I didn't want it to end. Now that's saying something! When I arrived at the last page, I did not want it to be over. Can never get enough Neruda! I am enamored with and impressed by "Neruda: The Poet's Calling" by Mark Eisner. It is truly a masterpiece. A labor of love. The entire book is luminous, poignant and stunning. Pablo Neruda is one of my most favorite poets, and I'm so grateful to Mr. Eisner for all the work and love he's poured into Pablo Neruda's Biography. The culmination of over 15 years of research and dedication has paid off in a powerful way for ardent and loyal fans who have long-admired Neruda's work, as well as for new lovers of Pablo's oeuvre. The biographer's admiration and passion for Neruda's poetry, as well as his quest to thoroughly document his life experiences and his effect on Chile's history, shines through his passionate pen. He discovers and reveals Neruda as an inspiring and brave human being who was and remains an enduring hero to many. Mr. Eisner's focus on the importance of Neruda's work and the tragedy of his death, as well as his enduring legacy for his admirers and to Chile's history, is woven throughout this biography in ways that are illuminating, poignant and revelatory for the reader. The biographer shares a touching fact where he was able to sit at Pablo Neruda's desk--the very one where he kept a framed picture of Walt Whitman. I can only imagine how it must've felt for Mr. Eisner to be sitting at the revered poet's desk, taking it all in, knowing Neruda had been there, penning the brilliant poems that have become a part of the universal consciousness and are held close to so many, many hearts. If you love the poetry of Pablo Neruda, you will be very pleased you purchased this book. It is a revelation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Mark Eisner's Neruda: The Poet's Calling is masterpiece in its telling of the life of one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century. Eisner is able to spool out the narrative of Neruda's life and the growth of his literary art through the people he knew and events he lived through, and does so in a way that reads like a very intimate communication with the poet himself. I loved so much about this biography, not the least of which the fact that Eisner lays Neruda out in an unmythologized manner, Mark Eisner's Neruda: The Poet's Calling is masterpiece in its telling of the life of one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century. Eisner is able to spool out the narrative of Neruda's life and the growth of his literary art through the people he knew and events he lived through, and does so in a way that reads like a very intimate communication with the poet himself. I loved so much about this biography, not the least of which the fact that Eisner lays Neruda out in an unmythologized manner, sharing his foibles and transgressions alongside his accomplishments and creations. Eisner also makes the brilliant decision to include Neruda's works into the narrative, which creates another level of connection for the reader, and a wonderful entree into Neruda's poetry for those who are uninitiated in it. The result is a book about the life of a complicated genius of a man, who lived in a complicated place in a complicated time, and who produced, by any measure, some of the finest and most essential poetry ever written in this hemisphere. This book should be the definitive life of Neruda, and will hopefully inspire further explorations into Neruda and his poetry. Neruda is the man of the people we ought to be reading in times such as these, when the world is in such tiny hands. Bravo to Mark Eisner for speaking for Neruda's death mouth and bringing his words and life to the attention of a new generation, and old fans like myself alike. This is a book well worth reading!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Travis Meserve

    Found Neruda himself to be a fascinating character and someone I'd wanted to learn more about since visiting Chile. I found the book itself to lack some of the scope and detail I've grown accustomed to in biographies, I imagine this is because I'm often reading U.S. presidential biographies where there is an overabundance of preserved letters, notes, and other first account writings for the author to draw on which I'm guessing does not exist in Neruda's case.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    A very concise look at the man that was Pablo Neruda, with his warts, flaws and foibles robustly thrown in. This is my first Neruda biography so I had no illusions as to what sort of book this would be. I can't say I'm a fan of Neruda so didn't take away anything, instead it added as thoroughly as a book of this type can. It is very well written and does a fair justice to the personal and public persona of a man that many in Chile still call a great poet.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo Rivero

    Excelente! Muy buena traducción, entretenido. Aprendí cosas nuevas de Neruda. Siempre leí su poesía pero me di cuenta, con este libro que sabía muy poco de su vida petsonal.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Our bookclub had the distinct pleasure to host Mr. Eisner for a discussion of his work. What a delightful, extraordinarily engaging and gentle man. The biography weaves a detailed arc of Neruda's life and yet also offers critical analysis of the complexities of the man himself. Poetry is, of course, expertly interspersed within the biography and gives backbone to the narrative and the historical connections. It was wonderful to have Mr. Eisner's companion book of poems The Essential Neruda while Our bookclub had the distinct pleasure to host Mr. Eisner for a discussion of his work. What a delightful, extraordinarily engaging and gentle man. The biography weaves a detailed arc of Neruda's life and yet also offers critical analysis of the complexities of the man himself. Poetry is, of course, expertly interspersed within the biography and gives backbone to the narrative and the historical connections. It was wonderful to have Mr. Eisner's companion book of poems The Essential Neruda while reading. I was initially nervous to read a biography (as that is not my normal choice), but Mr. Eisner's prose has the swiftness of a story while being detailed and well-researched. I would highly recommend this book both to those familiar with Neruda and newbies (like me).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Helene Cardona

    An extraordinary achievement: the most thorough biography to date of Nobel Prize-winner Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, “the people’s poet,” as he called himself, and who remains incredibly popular. Mark Eisner does a great job situating the poet's work's in its historical context. Eisner is also the translator of a wonderful collection of Neruda's poems: The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, 2004. A fabulous read accessible to all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Neruda: The Poet's Calling is a beautiful, deeply-researched and compelling portrait of a literary legend, a giant, and engrossing genius. It is a deep dive into a poet in all his triumphs, complexity, and humanity: in the introduction, Mark Eisner sets the intention of framing Neruda's poetry by telling hand in hand (or, verse in verse) with the story of Neruda's life and social activism, He achieves this, weaving his own lyrical prose throughout a complicated historical and personal narrative Neruda: The Poet's Calling is a beautiful, deeply-researched and compelling portrait of a literary legend, a giant, and engrossing genius. It is a deep dive into a poet in all his triumphs, complexity, and humanity: in the introduction, Mark Eisner sets the intention of framing Neruda's poetry by telling hand in hand (or, verse in verse) with the story of Neruda's life and social activism, He achieves this, weaving his own lyrical prose throughout a complicated historical and personal narrative with analysis of Neruda's poetry (including helpful information in the notes related to the task of translation). It is clear that this author has a deep, personal affinity for Neruda, but he is as unyielding in his presentation of the less savory aspects of Neruda the man--particularly in regard to his treatment of women--as he is dedicated in his admiration for the beauty of Neruda the poet. I highly recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Terence Clarke

    I recommend this biography to anyone who cares about Neruda’s poetry, and also as a window on the complicated life of this essential poet. It happens that, like Eisner, I too have translated much of Neruda’s work to English, and I value how accurate and heart-felt his translations are. Also, Eisner’s knowledge and sense of the various world’s Neruda inhabited, as a diplomat, a politician, a lover, an adventurer, and a poet/writer, is without equal. A very finely written book. --Terence Clarke: D I recommend this biography to anyone who cares about Neruda’s poetry, and also as a window on the complicated life of this essential poet. It happens that, like Eisner, I too have translated much of Neruda’s work to English, and I value how accurate and heart-felt his translations are. Also, Eisner’s knowledge and sense of the various world’s Neruda inhabited, as a diplomat, a politician, a lover, an adventurer, and a poet/writer, is without equal. A very finely written book. --Terence Clarke: Director of Publishing at Astor & Lenox (www.astorandlenox.com).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Stephens

    A marathon, not a sprint. Glad I read it, for an upcoming trip to Chile, didn't necessarily love it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Neruda: The Biography of a Poet by Mark Eisner is a thorough study into the experience and travels of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet and diplomat from the time of his birth tot the time of his death.  Mark Eisner has spent the last two decades of his life studying Pablo Neruda, and is even the translator of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems for City Lights, a bookstore-publisher based in San Francisco that specializes in world literature, the arts and progressive politics. The novel is structur Neruda: The Biography of a Poet by Mark Eisner is a thorough study into the experience and travels of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet and diplomat from the time of his birth tot the time of his death.  Mark Eisner has spent the last two decades of his life studying Pablo Neruda, and is even the translator of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems for City Lights, a bookstore-publisher based in San Francisco that specializes in world literature, the arts and progressive politics. The novel is structured chronologically and despite focusing on Pablo Neruda, has managed to uncover the underlying political trends that drove Latin American culture to be the melting pot of different political ideas that it is today. Initially, we learn the Pablo Neruda, until his teenage years, was actually called Neftalí and had a deeply gloomy attitude and spiritual connection to his native Chile. Immediately, he began tying his poetry the natural beauty of his childhood surroundings. As described in the book "Neftalí seemed to embody a natural melancholy, which would slowly begin to slip into serious sorrow as he progressed through childhood." (pg. 36). While in Chile as a school-age boy, Neftalí also found inspiration in a poet and teacher who inspire his writing, called Gabriela Mistral, who when arrived in Temuco, was already one of the nation's best-known poets. She found talent and Neftalí and "she would introduce him to the 'terrible vision'  of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov." (pg. 74). After changing his name, Pablo Neruda became more politically involved, whether it be due to his growing ambition, or the potential he saw in fame for representing the poor and middle class in his country. "In 1920, Neruda and his friends organized an ateneo literario en Temuco. In Chile, literary atheneums were popular societies that held conferences and long debates over the art of words." (pg. 81). During this time the emerging middle class was becoming more involved, posing a threat to the Chilean aristocracy. As the student-labor movement was growing, and after a speech by the orator Juan Gandolfo, tensions rose between the government and the movement, deeply affecting Neruda after Gomez Rojas, one of the student leaders, was arrested and died during incarceration. Finally, Neruda develops a type of confidence in himself that is complimented by an arrogance towards women, which makes him a complex figure to admire. An important muse to Neruda's work was Albertina Azocar, the muse to Twenty Love Poems, who he met during his time at a French pedagogy program. During this time, Neruda was still finding his poetic voice and Albertina "became a source of poetic energy, and this only intensified when he lost her" (pg. 125). After Albertina returned to home in Lota following a surgery, and a the strict request of her parents, Neruda suffered her absence and his passion for her invoked a certain cruelty in  him. Later, when Neruda becomes a diplomat in Colombo, he continues to write to Albertina and "blames the women in his life for his psychic pain and seems impotent to do anything about it" (pg. 223). In his narcissism, he appears to have trouble relating his problematic behavior with the larger political issues he has such a strong opinion about. Pablo Neruda is depicted in this autobiography as a deeply sentimental, beloved but also problematic and complex literary figure. Neruda's childhood in Chile, political ambitions and ongoing romances across many relationships with women would paint his work with a unique and heartfelt voice. While Neruda produced a large body of work, ranging from Twenty Love Poems (1924) to Residence on Earth (1933) to Canto General (1950), no one body of work effectively captures the complexity of his persona, which at times was soft and chivalrous, while at other timmes rigid and selfish.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jake Potts

    In this book, Eisner expertly weaves all the information he gleaned from over a decade of research together to form a biography so intimate that you'll walk away feeling like one of Pablo's many friends (or lovers). While he takes care not to be overly sentimental as he narrativizes the poet's life, he honors Pablo by analyzing his legacy and poetry with the same emotional depth and social consciousness that has made Neruda an enduring figure in world literature. The result is a book that, as Ei In this book, Eisner expertly weaves all the information he gleaned from over a decade of research together to form a biography so intimate that you'll walk away feeling like one of Pablo's many friends (or lovers). While he takes care not to be overly sentimental as he narrativizes the poet's life, he honors Pablo by analyzing his legacy and poetry with the same emotional depth and social consciousness that has made Neruda an enduring figure in world literature. The result is a book that, as Eisner puts it, is neither "hagiographic nor unbiased." Instead, it is a balanced take on Neruda: a biography that unflinchingly lays the poet's faults and hypocrisies bare while still emphasizing the way in which Neruda's work permeates the core of Latin America's (and especially Chile's) soul. This is an excellent read if you'd like to move beyond the romanticized or sanitized portrayals of Neruda that abound in popular discourse and gain insight into all the messy, horrifying, and beautiful facets of the poet's life and legacy. It's also fantastic for those seeking to understand how the social and political context of Neruda's time meshed with happenings in his personal life to inform his ever-evolving style. Regardless of your personal feelings about Neruda, this book will illuminate Pablo in all of his complexity, and for that we should all give Eisner our thanks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Ibarra

    We are all aware that Pablo Neruda is one of the best Latin American poets, but I knew practically nothing of his life. This book shows careful investigation in the life of the poet. Neruda knew he had the gift of a writer since he was very young, causing his father rejection and leaving him to fare on his own. He was also very politically involved, as is evident in many of his poems. He even had to flee his country to avoid being jailed or killed. Poetry and politics were his two passions in li We are all aware that Pablo Neruda is one of the best Latin American poets, but I knew practically nothing of his life. This book shows careful investigation in the life of the poet. Neruda knew he had the gift of a writer since he was very young, causing his father rejection and leaving him to fare on his own. He was also very politically involved, as is evident in many of his poems. He even had to flee his country to avoid being jailed or killed. Poetry and politics were his two passions in life. In terms of his personal life, I found out that he is by no means a role model. Despite his sensitivity as a poet, in his human relations he was hard as a rock. He abandoned a wife and daughter with no regret, and in his further relationships he was happy as long as his objectives and desires were met. Otherwise, NEEEXT!!! He may have been a great poet, but a lousy human being.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Benson

    More than 30 years ago, when living in Colombia, I read an English-translation of Pablo Neruda's memoir. I enjoyed listening to Chilean protest-folk music against the Pinochet regime, and was drawn to Pablo Neruda's story. I still have my copy of his memoir and I often would refer back to it when reading this excellent biography. Eisner brings out this complicated man fully: the depth and changing nature of his poetry; his relationship with women and his three wives; and his politics that he bro More than 30 years ago, when living in Colombia, I read an English-translation of Pablo Neruda's memoir. I enjoyed listening to Chilean protest-folk music against the Pinochet regime, and was drawn to Pablo Neruda's story. I still have my copy of his memoir and I often would refer back to it when reading this excellent biography. Eisner brings out this complicated man fully: the depth and changing nature of his poetry; his relationship with women and his three wives; and his politics that he brought into his poetry. I have not read any of his books of poetry, but Eisner includes many of his translations in this book and gives you the full flavor of it. While I enjoyed Pablo Neruda's memoir years ago, this biography gave me a much stronger sense of the man and his legacy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    The Book Grocer

    Purchase Neruda: The Poet's Calling here for just $15! I don’t read poetry but Pablo Neruda was one figure I was interested in, so thought I would give this a read and glad that I did. This book is more than just about Neruda's poetry, it tells of his upbringing all the way through to his final days during the coup in Chile. I recommend this for anyone who’s interested, not just in poetry and Neruda, but in biographies, literature, or history. A great read. Alicia - The Book Grocer Purchase Neruda: The Poet's Calling here for just $15! I don’t read poetry but Pablo Neruda was one figure I was interested in, so thought I would give this a read and glad that I did. This book is more than just about Neruda's poetry, it tells of his upbringing all the way through to his final days during the coup in Chile. I recommend this for anyone who’s interested, not just in poetry and Neruda, but in biographies, literature, or history. A great read. Alicia - The Book Grocer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I am having to abandon this book. The writing is just ok, nothing special there. It's the subject that has torn my heart apart. I had no idea Neruda was like this. So many pages of Neruda's terrible treatment of others. I probably should have done more research into his story before deciding to read this. My own fault. Definitely has put a dark cloud over his poetry for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nick Rueth

    Didn’t get through all of it. Glossed over parts, too. I don’t think I’m a big enough Neruda fan to really enjoy all 500 pages of this. Wish I had the patience to learn a little more from this book. Well done, though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    LA

    buy copy for personal library.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert Teeter

    This full-length biography of the Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda was everything I could ask for. I've been reading a lot of Neruda in recent years, but this work gave me new insight into the poet's life and work. Like any literary biography, there are two main streams: the literary and the biography. Eisner carefully describes the many phases of Neruda's career: the love poems that made his name when he was still at university, the surrealism of the '20s and early '30s, the political works This full-length biography of the Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda was everything I could ask for. I've been reading a lot of Neruda in recent years, but this work gave me new insight into the poet's life and work. Like any literary biography, there are two main streams: the literary and the biography. Eisner carefully describes the many phases of Neruda's career: the love poems that made his name when he was still at university, the surrealism of the '20s and early '30s, the political works during and after the Spanish Civil War, the odes on all kinds of things, the mature love poems for Matilde Urrutia, and the autumnal poetry of his later years. Of Neruda's biography, Eisner uncovers all kinds of interesting tidbits, for example, the half-brother who edited a newspaper in their provincial town and introduced Neruda to politics and the other relatives who weren't quite what they seemed due to some complicated relationships. There are some great photos, too, such as one with Neruda sporting a hat and cape as he did at university and in another wearing a white suit as he did during a diplomatic post in Asia. Another shows one of the muses of "20 Love Poems" as a young Chilean woman on a pony. And sadly, though Neruda was always concerned with the downtrodden of the world, he was not always kind to those closest to him. He cheated on all three of his wives. He abandoned his only child. Neruda was a lifelong communist -- which resulted in some regrettable poetry -- who would eventually disavow Stalin, Mao, and Castro, but long after many other leftists had seen the light. In his last years, Neruda ran for president of Chile, but bowed out in favor of his friend Salvador Allende. He was appointed ambassador to France and won the Nobel Prize, but had to return home due to illness. He died in September 1973, just 12 days after the coup that deposed Allende and brought to power General Augusto Pinochet. His public funeral was the first demonstration against the regime.

  27. 5 out of 5

    کاوه

    “On our earth, before writing was invented, before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished. That is why we know that poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity.”

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Avina

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leandro gonell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

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