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My Life with Pablo Neruda Hardcover – September 29, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford General Books (September 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804750092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804750097
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Much like Chilean poet Neruda's own glittering lyrics, his muse and widow Urrutia has penned a memoir that sparkles freshly with a love of family, nature and homeland. Memorialized by the Nobel laureate in his poems as "Rosario" and as the woman with Medusa-like hair, Urrutia was first glimpsed by Neruda at a concert in 1946, but it was three years before they met again, when she became his nurse as he was recovering from phlebitis. Neruda had to flee Chile because of his political views, and Urrutia soon joined him, inaugurating this famed literary romance. Sandwiched between accounts of Neruda's death shortly after the Pinochet coup in 1973 and her own persecution by the Chilean government are Urrutia's lyrical reminiscences of her love with Neruda. "Our easygoing, playful friendship, which we had considered to be at most simply mischievous, had just transformed into a complicated battle of emotions. Now our relationship would bring us... an abundance of joy, but it would also bring us grief and desperation." Urrutia draws strength from her husband's writings after his death as she faces her fears of remaining silent in the face of injustice. Her graceful prose offers not only a glimpse of her life with the great poet but also a portrait of the nobility of suffering under an unjust political regime. B&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the midst of Pinochet's brutal 1973 military coup, Matilde Urrutia, poet Pablo Neruda's lover, wife, and muse, was left to mourn the great Nobel laureate, settle his disintegrated estate, hastily memorialize him in their looted Santiago home, and bury him under police watch. Having considered herself apolitical, Matilde suddenly understood Neruda's dedication to Chile, and drawing on hidden strength, she bravely preserved Neruda's legacy by smuggling his memoir out of the country. Here she offers her memoir, a loving and emotionally charged record that provides many heretofore missing pieces in the puzzle of Neruda's life. One only needs to read the intimate details of their first clandestine days together in Europe; their soulful, life-altering time in Switzerland and Capri; her heartbreaking miscarriages; and his poems reflecting these events, to understand the depth of their love. Given that it's the centenary of Neruda's birth, readers might wish for a tighter focus on the poet, but every intimate glimpse enhances our understanding and appreciation. Janet St. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ginger danken on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago a friend brought me back Matilde's book from Chile, her original version in Spanish. I was eager to read it, as Matilde and Pablo were one of literature's greatest couples, and I had only, and the only biography I had read of Neruda at that time were his own Memoirs.

Unfortunately, though,it seemed she learned nothing about writing from her husband. The prose was dry and the tale took terrible turns in chronology, tone, and even voice--switching from first to third. Though she does offer some very special intimate glimpses into the poet and their fabled relationship, the writing distracted from any good biographical information that she provided.

But I recently came across a review on the web of this new translation, talking about how Ms. Giardino had transformed the original faults and created a new version which engages, without changing what Matilde wanted to say. I am normally a stickler for translations being faithful to the original, while knowing that they do have to balance the artistic translation as well. Ben Bellet's translations of Neruda for instance take way too much literary license as he creates new poems, not translations, new poems which are not just anywhere close to being faithful to Neruda's original words, but are just awful poems themselves.

But what Ms. Giardino has done is, literaly, exceptional. Matilde needed her work to be edited, and Giardino has done a masterful job of that, besides creating a translation into beautiful English prose. And--importantly--the book does not hide the fact that it has made these changes--it is honest in what it tried to achieve, and she is very successful. The result is a delightful read and a special view into a special relationship of one of the most special poets of all times.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chris Lantern on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Matilde Urrutia, Neruda's third wife, was the subject of some of the greatest love poetry ever written. In this beautiful account of their life together, one gains gorgeous insight not only to their love, but to the character of the great poet Neruda, a view unavailable in other biographies. You also learn the tragic history of Chile and Neruda's involvment in it.

Having read the original in Spanish, I can say that Alexandra Giardino's adaptation is a masterpiece in literary translation. The book reads so much better, actually, with her work.

Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anne McPhee on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This translation of Matilde Urruita's memoir adds so much to the the canon of English language material about Pablo Neruda. Opening with the assassination of President Allende and Neruda's death, Urrutia in a series of flashbacks reveals her life with Neruda and his poetry. Indeed, there is a sense that the poetry had a life of its own; it certainly becomes a third "character" in this memoir.

There are moments when Uruttia threatens to overwhelm with overwrought sentimentality, but Uruttia (with no small assist from the translator, I'm certain) stops short. But all in all, it is a delightful book that chronicles a magic love affair.
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