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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2005
This collection is by far the most thoughtful and persuasive introduction to Neruda available--it really is "essential." The translations are some of the best ever published (to be sure, it's an impressive line-up of contributors), and the editor obviously deeply knows and honors the material. I am a college professor, and I plan to use this work in my classroom. If you are lucky enough to be heading to Chile, this is the one Neruda book to carry you through your travels...to introduce you to that beautiful poetic country.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2006
As a former student of Spanish literature, I have always held a deep appreciation for the work of Pablo Neruda. I have often wished to share the beauty of his work with friends and family - yet many of them have found Neruda translations to be inaccessible. I have also found that many of the other translations are stilted or do not properly recreate the rhythm and imagery of the Spanish original.
The Essential Neruda combines an excellent overview of Neruda's work with accesible and faithful translation. Whether you are new to the poetry of Pablo Neruda or have already read every one of his works - the Essential Neruda will give you valuable insight into his art and an appreciation of cutting-edge poetry translation.
This book also launched a non-profit organization and on-line community dedicated to Neruda and his work.

Check out [...] to learn about contemporary Neruda translation and scholarship, Chilean politics and more.

It also shows how you can get involved with the legacy of Neruda.
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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2006
My husband is a linguist, and one of the things he suggested I do while learning Spanish is memorize various items -- stories, poems, songs -- that I can say to myself whenever I like. Other than "practice the verbs!" this has been the best language advice I've ever received. It helps me with pronunciation, understanding, fluency -- and, as a major side benefit, I have great pastimes for when I'm waiting in line, or stuck somewhere without a book.

"The Essential Neruda" is a goldmine of beautiful pieces, and most anyone will be able to find a poem that appeals to them enough to learn by heart. "Oda al Libro (II)" is one of my favorites, and it has helped me learn and retain the meanings of several great words.

Side-by-side bilingual texts like this one also serve as terrific motivators for language learners because as we grow in skill and are able to read in both languages, we can evaluate the translators' work and notice where certain nuances and meanings are lost in the shift from one language to another. Being able to understand a writer like Neruda in his original language is a glorious treat!
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2004
I teach Neruda in Chile, we often see the work of this poet in translation, since the students come from different countries. I've read the Essential Neruda and decided that this is the best choice to teach and enjoy Neruda's poems in the English language. First of all it covers all important poem collections published by Neruda, its affordable for any reader and above all, Eisner's versions of the romantic poetry and the joint translations of Alturas de Macchu Picchu -just to name a couple of many examples- are accurate and close to the strength of the poems in the original language.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
"I became saturated with his poetry and began to translate his poems. Although there were many beautiful existing translations, many others did not flow as I felt they should and I often had interpretive differences with them." ~ Mark Eisner, translator

"The Essential Neruda Selected Poems" is the best translation I've read so far. The words are alive with beauty in a way that feels authentic to the heart. You can immerse yourself in the poems and emerge with a sense of wonder.

"Leaning into the evenings I throw my sad nets
to your ocean eyes."

Mark Eisner has captured the soul of Pablo Neruda's art and perhaps even enhanced the creative majesty of each poem. At times the poems can make you feel a little breathless as if you have happened upon a new discovery or secret revelation.

"And the air came in with orange-blossom fingers
over all those asleep:
a thousand years of air, months, weeks of air,
of blue wind, of iron cordillera,
that were like soft hurricanes of footsteps
polishing the lonely boundary of the stone."

The imagery is at times so vivid, as if you were transported to each scene. Pictures flash across your mind and you can almost catch the scent of the ocean or see the colors vivid and pure. Angels and death dance through the poems with equal ease and at times the words are heavenly or earthy and dark.

"Full woman, carnal apple, hot moon,
thick smell of seaweed, crushed mud and light,
what obscure clarity opens between your columns?
What ancient night does man touch with his senses?"

If you are new to the poems of Pablo Neruda then this would be an excellent place to start. The poems present many facets of the poet unlike other books that simply reveal his romantic nature. While I seem to enjoy his love poems best, I can say that this experience gives a more wide-ranging portrait of Pablo Neruda.

~The Rebecca Review
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2006
If I were to introduce someone to the greatness of Neruda I would give them this book as it gives an insight into his life's poetry.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2004
A careful selection of fifty of Neruda's poems from his lifetime oeuvre, this book is truly essential for new fans of Neruda, offering a wonderful introduction, as well as for long time afficianados, presenting fresh translations by an all star cast of poets, both Chilean and American. This aspect, along with the beautiful layout of Spanish and English side by side on the page, the book has a balanced feel, compelling to readeres interested in decisions in translation, linguistics, or who just love great poetry.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2004
The Essential Neruda Selected Poems presents fifty poems by Pablo Neruda, one of the greatest known Spanish poets, both in their original language and in new translations created by a collaboration of eight poets, translators, and Neruda scholars. A captivating celebration, and a superb introduction to the pathos of Neruda's work one hundred years after his birth. "Winter Garden": It shows up, the winter. Splendid dictation / bestowed on me by slow leaves / suited up in silence and yellow. // I'm a book of snow, / a wide hand, a prairie, / an expectant circumference, / I pertain to earth and its winter...
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2005
For those of you - like me - who may be intimidated by those huge tomes and volumes of poetry, this is perfect for you. It's a very manageable collection of work from one of the most influential writers of the past century. His writings ring eerily true today, and provide a sense of solace and solidarity between what Neruda had to live through and what many of us are feeling during Bush's regime.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2006
Drawn into the appeal of Pablo Neruda through an art project, I

approached this collection of poems taped together and bound by

a red sleeve at a local bookstore. I was moreoverly surprised

at how entrancing and delicately eloquent Neruda's writing style

was--even transcribed from spanish to english. The editor, Mark

Eisner did a fantastic job with the translations, and I didn't

feel like I was succombing to "Kung-Fu movie" subtitles as I

would have expected. This collection brought Neruda's poetry to

a managable and palpable understanding, such as I needed to

thoroughly perceive it. Though Chile, Neruda's homeland, is, as

any other cultured region would be, variable to my own, it

continued to bring insights to my own observations of life--and

all the beauty and exquisite allure contained in it.
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