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Residence on Earth Paperback – July, 2004
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That Pablo Neruda was the greatest poet of the last century is beyond argument in much of South America. -- Carolyn Curiel, New York Times, 6 July 2004
The greatest poet of the twentieth centuryin any language. -- Gabriel García Márquez
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Top Customer Reviews
The paradox of Neruda is the earthy quality of so many of his poems combined with the idealistic imagery. Neruda was a common man living the life of a folk hero in his own mind, who by placing that life into poetry became a folk hero of substance. He captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation of Chileans, spanish-speaking peoples, and eventually the world. And for good reason. Neruda believes in the power of words. He is a master of image placed into language, a visionary linguist in every sense.
Unlike so many English and American poets, you don't need to be an expert on Greek mythology or on other poets to understand where Neruda is coming from. This is a poetry of the people, accessible to the many, and yet effective enough that it should melt even the most stodgy teacher of English lit.
The third section, written many years after the first two, explores many political themes, as opposed to the more personal images evoked in the first two sections. It's too bad, as I personally enjoy the first two a little more. But even so, it pointed towards new directions that Neruda would explore in his later, more mature works. Yet maturity or no, this is the Neruda that I found most eminently readable, most capable of evoking a sense of obscure appreciation that I can't quite put my finger on.Read more ›
I find the poems from the first residence here almost impenetrably surrealistic and the translations overly literal in many places. The later poems are awkwardly political, violent, and at times vulgar. There are bright spots such as the Ode to Federico Garcia Lorca, but to my taste, they are few and far between.
I would, instead of this volume, recommend Stephen Mitchell's lovely translations of the later works of Neruda entitled "Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon".
Those of you who are already spitting mad that anyone would dare to find Neruda anything but brilliant need read no further, but for those wondering how I can complain about translations that everyone else praised, I will take some time with one poem to flesh out my position.
The very first poem in the collection is Galope Muerto or Dead Gallop as Mr. Walsh renders it. There's just not space to render both Spanish and English, but I've spent hours with both due to things like the translation of the very first line including the phrase "like seas peopling themselves". Now I don't care if you are a surrealist or something else, that phrase is English drivel. Two lines later we find "the crossed bells crossing," which while not exactly nonsense, does not move the meaning of the poem forward in any accessible way.
Later in the second stanza of the same poem we have "... like the pulley wild within itself,/ those motor wheels in short." Now, this make no earthly sense in English. It also ignores the punctuation of the second line in Spanish that reads " esas ruedas de los motores, en fin.Read more ›
Having said that, I'm going to talk about Neruda and this wonderful book. It was written when Neruda was in his late twenties, in different locations and inspired by different situations, people, languages and... women. Residence on Earth is a book in which nothing happens. Everything is happening without advancing to any place or any site. That's why Neruda uses the gerund all the time. There is no narrative in the usual sense. So at a first glance the reader (I was twenty six when I read it for the first time) feels very confused. "What's this" is the recurrent question. After reading poetry in the line of the so called Golden Century in the Spanish tradition and since then all the way up to the eighteenth or nineteenth century, you discover that this book is out of place. And then you try to answer the question "What is Neruda doing?"
There is no narration, yes, so the language is the main character here. It doesn't matter who or where this poems were inspired.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't count how many times I have given this book to beloved friends. His writing hits a part of your brain you do not usually access. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Johanna Sparks
Neruda's universe is boundless.
I am sorry my Spanish skills make reading his poems in the original so difficult.
You might say this is sort of Neruda's "Blonde on Blonde"... it is groundbreaking...the images flow and surge, it is...inspiring... loaded with great writing. Read morePublished 11 months ago by dadaloco
A beautifully written poetic work which is translated into English and contains the original Spanish version on the opposite pages. Read morePublished 13 months ago by rcrnnr
by one of the greatest poets of our age
sublime in its magnificent use of language and its fearlessness