Cover image for Pablo Neruda : absence and presence
Pablo Neruda : absence and presence
Poirot, Luis.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Neruda. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [1990]

Physical Description:
189 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Neruda.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ8097.N4 Z72513 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This is a coverage of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, through his poems, recollections of his legions of friends and 100 photographs of his surroundings and idiosyncratic possessions (Neruda was a passionate collector of everything from shells and ships in bottles to houses).


Pablo Neruda is one of the most widely read poets in the world. A Nobel Prize winner and a man with legions of friends, he loved and wrote about everything is nature as well as objects of all descriptions. In this book, through Neruda's words, his friends' words, and magnificent photographs, we can to know his magical world, and ultimately the man himself. Neruda's elegant and lyrical poetry, presented here bilingually with superb translations by Alastair Reid, reveals a man of great warmth and complex thought. A passionate acquirer, he collected ships in bottles, shells, postcards, ships' figureheards, sextants, clocks, stones, books, hats, and more. These objects served as extensions of his imagination, the vocabulary of his poems. Luis Poirot's evocative photographs of Neruda, his possessions, and his surroundings provide a dramatic, yet intimate narrative alongside his poetry. Neruda's house in Isla Negra, facing the Pacific Ocean (he collected houses, too, and made them into original, often whimsical, objects in themselves) is where most of Poirot's photographs were taken. We are witness to the manner in which Neruda imbued this house, and all it contained, with his own vitality, style, and large imagination. More than twenty of Neruda's friends, including Julio Cort?ar, Eduardo Galeano, Alastair Reid, Diego Mu?s, Roberto Matta, and his wife Matilde Urrutia, offer personal insights and humorous memories of this prolific poet. A striking portrait by Poirot accompanies each testimony. An aura of Neruda prevails throughout this hypnotic journey of words and photographs. Even when the words are not his own, even when the camera is not focused on him, Neruda's presence haunts and inspires.

Author Notes

Pablo Neruda was born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto in Ferral, Chile on July 12, 1904. In 1923 he sold all of his possessions to finance the publication of his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight), which he published under the pseudonym Pablo Neruda. Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair), which was published the following year, made him a celebrity and allowed him to stop his studies to devote himself to poetry.

His other works include España en el Corazón, Canto General, Las Uvas y el Viento, and Para Nacer He Nacido. He received numerous awards including the World Peace Prize with Paul Robeson and Pablo Picasso in 1950, the Lenin Peace Prize and the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953, and the Nobel Prize for Literature for his poetry in 1971. He died of leukemia on September 23, 1973.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This intriguing book introduces the great Chilean poet obliquely, through the artifacts he collected (ships in bottles, figureheads, old trains) and through friends' reminiscences. Luis Poirot's sculptural, complex photographs capture the qualities of both majesty and delicacy in each object. Neruda's last home at Isla Negra and its collections illustrate and illuminate the accompanying poems. The statuelike portraits of friends, translators, other poets, Neruda's wife, Neruda himself, speak directly out of the past. Yet the centerpiece of the book is a moving section of close-up shots of, simply, the fence around the Isla Negra home--"that huge collective book," Poirot calls it--where Chileans have scratched messages and lines of his poems. A more moving tribute to the poet could not be imagined. --Pat Monaghan

Library Journal Review

These three publications add to the voluminous literature on Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda. Chilean photographer Poirot's work is essentially a reprint of an older edition of the same name. Poirot photographed Neruda's house on Isla Negra (the poet's last residence) and his townhouse in Valparaiso, which was sacked in 1973 when Chile fell prey to dictatorship. This new edition superimposes excerpts from Neruda's poetry on Poirot's very moving photos and features photos and testimonies of Neruda's closest friends and admiring writers. Urrutia, Neruda's third wife, provides a fresh new biography from her particular vantage. Her purpose is twofold: to present her Pablo as the exuberant, warm, and loving individual he was and to inform readers of the menace imposed by Chilean dictator Pinochet, who was responsible for the assassination of elected president Allende, Neruda's close friend. Urrutia's account is highly selective but well worth reading for another perspective on this great man. Feinstein, a writer and translator who has served as London correspondent for El Mundo, Spain's leading daily, recounts Neruda's efforts during the Spanish Civil War and resistance to two Chilean dictators, but he also attempts to clarify Neruda's controversial views of Stalinist communism. Numerous accounts of important people in the poet's life are presented staccato style, with one account often interrupting another, so that getting a sense of the chronology may be a challenge. Excerpts from Neruda's journals and poetry further add to the intensity of this biography. All three books are recommended for public libraries; Poirot's would serve academic libraries as well.-Nedra Crowe-Evers, Sonoma Cty. Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.