Pablo Neruda by Dominic Moran
Pablo Neruda (1904 1973) is Latin America's best known and, for many, greatest poet. He was also perhaps its most controversial. Adored by readers the world over for the sumptuous love lyrics penned during his early years in his native Chile, and revered by fellow poets and literary critics for the dark, hypnotic verse he composed during his lonely years as a diplomat in the Far East, his later life was marked by an increasingly militant communism, the seeds of which can be traced to his experiences in Spain during the early months of the Spanish Civil War, and which was later reflected in a radically simplified poetic idiom aimed directly at the working masses. Throughout the 1950s and '60s he became a literary torch-bearer for the International Left, and his iconic status at times caused him to turn a blind eye to the ugly Realpolitik implemented in name of the supposedly humanitarian creed to which he so ardently adhered. He spent his final years campaigning to bring socialism to his beloved Chile, but lived just long enough to see his hero Salvador Allende unseated by Augusto Pinochet's bloody coup. Rarely are the life and works of a writer so intimately and dramatically bound up as they were in Neruda's case, and in this study Dominic Moran takes a detailed and often critical look at the relationship between them, focusing as much on what the poetry sometimes strategically hides about Neruda the creator, the lover and the political proselytiser, as on what it reveals. What emerges is a fascinating if not always flattering picture of one of the most prodigiously gifted but also one of the most equivocal literary figures of the twentieth century.