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The Life of Pablo Neruda

Works in Translation

Pablo Neruda

on 9 December 2014

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Transcript of The Life of Pablo Neruda

The Life of Pablo Neruda
Life at Home and Abroad
Early Life
Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto was born in Parral Chile in 1904. His father was a railway employee and his mother was a teacher, though she died only 2 months after Ricardo was born. The death of his mother was a large loss for Neruda, one which in later years he would bring up constantly in his works.

Experiences Abroad
At the time that Neruda was gaining fame, South American governments would often appoint their poets to be consuls in foreign countries, and even ambassadors, despite poets being under-qualified for such positions
Experiences Abroad cont'd.
In 1927, Neruda undertook the role of consul in Rangoon, the capital of what was at the time the British colony of Burma (present-day Myanmar), a place which he had never even heard of
He later served in cities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore
Politics of the time
In the early 30's, Chile was under a strict conservative rule, headed by Arturo Alessandri
The communists, radicals and socialists created the "Popular Front Party" so as to defeat Alessandri in the 1938 election
They did this, barely, and Pedro Aguirre Cerda became president of chile until he retired in 1941 due to Illness
Residencia contd.
Neruda's struggles are reflected in these volumes- do you think that his works allow a better understanding of history, especially so the spanish revolution? What form of understanding is gained?
Does this deeper understanding help overcome lack of understanding due to cultural differences?
From February 1948 until March 1949 he lived in hiding and then fled to Argentina.
During his 13-month hiding in Chile, he finished working on "Canto General".
Joined his long time friend Miguel Angel Asturias and used his passport to travel in Latin America, then to Europe and Asia for next three years.
In Paris, he attended the World Congress of Peace to a surprised and stunned audience.
Exile Contd.
During his travels he wrote many poems that he published after his return called "Las Uvas Y El Viento", which acted as a journal of his exile.
In late 1949, he traveled to Mexico where he attended the Latin American Congress for Peace.
He became ill with phlebitis, and Matilde Urrutia, was hired to take care of him.
They started an affair, influencing Neruda to dedicate many of his publications to her such as the "Captain's Verses" and "One 100 Love Sonnets".

Political Career
Pablo Neruda was nominated for Chilean president in 1970 but gave up his position and gave his support to instead Salvador Allende. Who later became the first democratically elected socialist president. Neruda was appointed the Chilean ambassador to France and kept that position from 1970-1972. There he began to work at Chile's large foreign debt owed to European and American Banks.
Awards Received
While working as the Ambassador to France Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971. He also received in 1972 the Golden Wraith Award at the Struga Poetry Evenings.
Visiting Peru
On his way back from the PEN conference he stopped in Peru and was received by the President.The Peruvian government had recently however declared their lack of support for Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. Neruda's visit to Peru sparked backlash from Cuba with a hundred Cuban intellectuals signing a letter charging Neruda of supporting the enemy in July 1966. Neruda had previously given public support to the Cuban's but hurt by this letter he never returned to Cuba.
Love Poems
Role Models
A love song to Stalingrad
1935- became consul in Madrid, Spain
1936- Neruda Separated from wife, Maryka Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzang
Location and Love
Spanish Civil War
July 1936- Spanish Civil War began, Neruda sided with the Spanish Republicans
1937- from war front, Neruda published "Espana en el Corozon" ("Spain in My Heart")
It sympathized with the Spanish Rebels, caused him to be recalled to Chile

Tercera Residencia
Excerpt from "I explain a Few Things" (Neruda)
consider my dead house,
consider Spain, broken:
but from every dead house burning metal flows
in place of flowers,
but from every hollow of Spain
Spain rises,
but from every dead child rises a gun with eyes,
but from every crime are born bullets
that will find you one day in the house
of the heart.
Come and see the blood through the streets,
come and see
the blood through the streets,
come and see the blood
through the streets!

1938- Neruda became Consul in Paris, helping Spanish refugees settle in Chile
1939- Neruda became Consul in Mexico for four years
1941- Neruda visits Cuba, and reads new poem "Canto de Amor Para Stalingrado" ("Love song to Stalingrad") celebrating the Russians and the Red Army (Communism)
He later wrote a secondary Poem "Un Nuevo Canto de Amor a Stalingrado" ("A new Love song to Stalingrad")

Return to Chile
After his time in Mexico, Neruda returns to Chile
1945- Neruda is elected to the Chile Senate as part of the Communist Party
1945- Neruda legally changes his name to Pablo Neruda(His pen name) from Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto
1946- Neruda Championed for Gabriel Gonzalez Vidala, a leftist, to become President of Chile
Vidala was elected, but later turned conservative, and partnering with the US, attempted to outlaw communism
Neruda wrote a public letter, denouncing Vidala's policies after the violent oppression of a miner's strike
This resulted in a warrant for his arrest on charges of defamation and degradation of Chile's Image
Right Comrade, It's the Hour of the Garden-last poem
Pen Conference
Pablo Neruda and North America
Coup d'etat
Pablo Neruda spoke out about his disapproval on the way America handled the Cuban Missile Crisis and later the Vietnam War. He was labeled a primary target by the Congress for Cultural Freedom funded by the CIA
Pablo Neruda was officially barred from the International Pen conference of 1966 in New York because of his communist ties, however the conference organizer, a playwright, Arthur Miller granted his visa. In New York he did several public readings to large groups of people. He also recorded some poems for the library of congress.
"I come from a dark province, from a country separated from others by a severe geography. I was the most abandoned of poets, and my poetry was regional, sorrowful, steeped in rain. But I always had confidence in man. I never lost hope. That may be why I am here with my poetry, and with my flag."
Nobel Prize Excerpt
Neruda was forced to return from France because of his health. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Meanwhile a military coup lead by General Augusto Pinochet seized control of Chile. When his house was searched by the army he said "Look around-there's only one thing of danger for you here-poetry". The coup threw his good friends Salvador Allende out of power and killed him
11 days after Salvador Allende was killed Pablo Neruda died of cancer on September 23, 1973 in Samtiago, Chile. His poems leading up to his death indicate he was aware of the coming end of his life. A funeral took place in Chile with a massive police presence. Mourners took the opportunity of his funeral to potest the military coup. Upon his death Pablo Neruda's house was broken into and his work stolen or destroyed. However his third wife Matilda Urrutia was able to compile his memoirs and possibly his final poem, Right Comrade, It's the Hour of the Garden, into a final memoir published 1974.
"That's why this is the last call,
the tenth clear
ringing of my bell:
to the garden, comrade, to the pale lily;
to the apple tree, to the intransigent carnation,
to the fragrance of lemon blossoms,
and then to the ultimatums of war.

Ours is a lank country
and on the naked edge of her knife
our frail flag burns".
Neruda's Exile
Experiences Abroad cont'd.
Completely estranged from his country and his culture, Neruda developed a pervasive sense of isolation and disenchantment
He was surrounded by English-speaking colonists, and work which he had no interest nor experience in
Residencia en la tierra

It was during this period of travel, and in the midst of these emotions, that Neruda wrote the first poems for his three-volume collection
Residencia en la tierra
Residence on Earth
(1931, 1935, 1947)
Residencia en la tierra
This collection marked a pivotal change in Neruda’s technique
His poems during this period were written in a style which came to be known as ‘Nerudaism’, which is characterized by
“irrational leaps of thought, eccentric uses of language, and powerful images presented without explanation”

What elements of 'Nerudaism' do you recognize in "Walking Around" ?
Neruda and Surrealism
Residencia en la tierra
is arguably influenced by the Surrealist movement that began in the early 1920s, and held its center in Paris
However, while French Surrealists such as André Breton often wrote absurdist poetry that was meant to shock or amuse the reader, Neruda’s poetry was darkly emotional
Other Influences
His memoirs also indicate that Neruda was possibly influenced by the works of Irish writer James Joyce, including
Chamber Music
“Walking Around” has sometimes been interpreted as a tribute to the streets of Dublin that were depicted in Joyce’s writings.
In later years, Neruda criticized his poems in
Residencia en la tierra
as being self-centred and depressing, but many critics laud the collections as some of his most important works
Do you agree with Neruda’s
re-evaluation of his poems in
Residencia en la tierra

How do you feel they compare to his other styles of poetry (e.g. love sonnets, odes)?
Neruda's Return
Neruda returned to Chile in 1952 after 3 years in exile by the weakness of Gonzales Vileda's government
He seperated from his second wife as she found out about his affair due to his publication of poems about it.
Started working with Caracas Newspaper and through newspaper, he wrote weekly pieces.
He started writing odes and published three books of odes from 1952-57.
The three books were "Elemental Odes", "New Elemental Odes", and Third Book of Odes".
Return Contd.
He also published the other books he worked on during his exile.
He gained lot of popularity through his rapid publication of books and traveled around the world promoting his work and giving speeches.
Pablo Neruda Odes
Writing odes were a different take on poems he undertook while working for Caracas.
He wrote about a long list of subjects, to give everyday inanimate objects a life of their own.
He expressed everything ordinary as being magical.
Carried a more general tone compared to other publications.
Odes Contd.
One teacher and role model in Neruda's life came from an unlikely encounter with a head mistress of an all girls secondary school. This woman was Gabriela Mistral, a Latin American poet who would later win the nobel prize for literature in 1945. She helped give him confidence in his work and the necessary literature and support that he wasn't getting at home. Mistral took the place of the mother that he had lost, which he was grateful for.
Twenty Love poems and a Song of Despair became so popular because of Nerudas celebration of sexuality. Neruda was not the first to use explicit sexual imagery in his poems, but he did offer a new look on the presentation of his stanzas.
He spoke of his own personal experiences of love and what it meant to him. His love for nature and women came out through his work as he compared the two regularly to one another.

Content Question
... But Stalingrad
You can stand at least a day and night
You tortured with fire and iron!
Yes! Death itself is powerless in front of you!
They are immortal, your sons ...
Distressed struggle, bloody wounds.
And in death they even defend
Your victory, the city of eternal glory!
How did his early life experience of his mothers death influence his poetry?

Knowing what you know now about Pablo Neruda growing up, does this change your thoughts or views on some of the poems you have read?

Do you find the use of nature imagery too much in Nerudas poems?

"the mother who is left there with her blood
and her torn fullness
and her end and beginning, and the disorder
that troubles the pulse, the floor, the blankets,
until everything gathers and adds
on more knot to the thread of life:"
Births by Pablo Neruda
Years later he moved from his birth place of Purral to Termuco where his father remarried to Dona Trinidad Candia Malverde. Termuco is a small city in southern Chile. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, lush forests, and its many valleys. This is where Neruda began looking at nature in a new way, taking this piece of home and putting it into his poems. He took such a liking to the wilderness, that he later talks about his grief in leaving it in his first collections. From the early age of 13 Ricardo started publishing his poems in the daily "la manana", this is when he started using the pseudonym Pablo Neruda, to conceal his identity from his father who disproved of his writing
Growing Up
After finishing secondary school, in 1921, Neruda moved to Santiago to continue his schooling. While there he wrote his first collection, Book of Twilight in 1923. A year later he wrote Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair which quickly rocketed him to fame in the Latin world.
University and Rise to Fame
"Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
you look like a world, lying in surrender.
My rough peasant's body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth"
Body of a Woman
Pablo Neruda
In Neruda's poem he relates the woman to mother earth. He describes his body as unworthy in the presence of such beauty. This poem demonstrates the conversion of his two loves, women and the wilderness.
Why is it important to understand Pablo Neruda's life, culture, and surroundings when studying his works?
In relation to what you have just learned, would you say that Neruda's views and poetry are more affected by his relations or his surroundings?
Do you agree with Neruda's political views? Why do you think they might have been so extremist?
Not based on a specific personal experience but making a strong connection to the audience.
Portray indirect experiences of Neruda, change in perspective during travels in the east.
Odes published a "long history of time, things, people, fruit, flowers and life".
"Moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter".

Ode to my Socks by Pablo Neruda
Political Connections of Odes
Through his odes, he grabbed the attention of Salvador Allende, and started working for him.
Helped him in his political campaigns and was a major asset for gaining more support and eventually taking on higher position in Chile.
His time in exile, shows the change of political ideology, from communism to socialism.
Do you think knowing in what context books Neruda wrote, such as the "Captain's Verses", a book that is on his affair, affect how people view Neruda as a person? If so, then in what ways does it affect views?
What kind of tone do you think Neruda's odes sets from the ones we have studied so far?
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