Friday, April 29, 2011

Who the Hell Is Neruda?

In answering the question whether Pablo Neruda received any international recognition, a student informed us that nobody knows who he is besides people who are really into poetry.

Serves him right, too. Neruda was a brilliant poet but that, in my opinion, is not enough to redeem him from his horrible machismo. Just take this atrocious beginning of his most famous love poem (translation is mine): "I like it when you are silent because it is as if you weren't there."

It's stuff like this that made me switch from Latin American to Peninsular studies. Spain's Garcia Lorca who created pretty much the only interesting and non-pathetic female character in the entirety of Spanish literature is incomparably better.

And yes, I'm trying to be provocative on purpose here.

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Spanish prof said...

If you really want to attack Neruda, you should go for his communist poems. Those are really atrocious.

Clarissa said...

Oh yes, his Communist poems are atrocious. Forget about ideology, they suck something fierce poetically.

Shedding Khawatir said...

Well, I think your student is wrong about who knows him (I mean, he won a Nobel, right?), but now I feel much better about not liking his poems (which I read in English, so probably lost a lot of their poetic quality, although there were some amazing lines), although I haven't read all of them.

profacero said...

Residencia en la Tierra is his only interesting book, but even it gets old.

Judith Sierra-Rivera said...

We could always think about Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro, Nicanor Parra, Diamela Eltit, and Pedro Lemebel (just to name some other Chilean authors) instead of Neruda... Canon can suck in every national literature. Chile and Spain are not exceptions; both can be read from/for the best or the worst of interpretations.

Clarissa said...

I love both Huidobro and Parra, so I agree completely. Eltit is not my writer but many people love her.

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban said...

As a Spaniard I agree, rampant machismo is all too real in Spanish literature.

I also agree that Lorca created interesting female characters.I n a way his characters remind me of the women in Almodovar's movies.
The fact that both author/film maker were homosexual can have something to do with it.