Southern Chile was an open frontier when the beloved poet Pablo Neruda was born there in 1904. A motherless, pensive child in the wild, he began writing poems long before quitting the countryside for Santiago, where he spent his bohemian student years. From there, his memoir follows his travels as a globetrotting Chilean consul--including a stint in Spain during its civil war, and in Mexico, where he attracted attention for aiding a man suspected of conspiring to assassinate Leon Trotsky--and his short-lived service as a Chilean senator. Neruda, a communist, was driven from his senate seat in 1948, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. After a year in hiding, he escaped on horseback over the Andes, then to Europe and Asia. The memoirs conclude shortly after the coup in 1972 that overthrew his close friend Salvador Allende, Chile's first democratically elected president, as Neruda himself battled cancer. Now expanded to include newly discovered material, The Complete Memoirs is the definitive edition of Neruda's classic memoir.
The memoirs of Pablo Neruda (1904-73), the great Chilean poet and Nobel laureate, first translated into English in 1977, have been newly expanded here in subtle and significant ways with the addition of previously unpublished or incomplete manuscripts, explanatory editorial notes, and an instructive chronology ... This greatly improved edition will appeal to Neruda completists and aficionados, and it will serve as a fascinating entry point for anyone interested in a firsthand look at the raw material of this legendary poet’s life.
It is impossible not to feel a thrill of expectation upon opening The Complete Memoirs by Pablo Neruda. But once a reader discovers what’s actually on its pages, the title’s claim of completeness—with its promise of juicy restorations and the accretion of long-lost chapters written by the great Chilean poet—seems no better than a gimmick to sell afresh a book that was first published in English translation 44 years ago ... Readers who know their Neruda will contend that only one textual addition—which deals plainspokenly with the homosexuality of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca—truly adds value. Which is fine, of course, because the original version—let us not call it 'incomplete'—is a deliciously self-serving and unabashed narrative account of the poet’s life, loves, grudges, contempt and ideology. It is stunningly vain in places yet always beautiful...
The fresh material is skillfully woven into the original memoir, which Neruda called his 'journey around myself,' with evocations of his family and childhood, global travels, friends and foes, carnal desires, aspirations and achievements as a poet, and celebration of the natural world ... Overall, the selections round out Neruda’s image as a poet ... Emendations that contribute to a nuanced portrait of a complex man.