NERUDA: The Poet's Calling
by Mark Eisner
Ecco/HarperCollins, April 2018
A semi-finalist for the the 2019 PEN/Bograd Weld Award for Biography
"Mark Eisner's definitive biography of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda reads like a beautifully written novel: attentive to scene, momentum, and rich with evocative details.”
— Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban
"Neruda: The Poet's Calling unfolds as a masterful weave of biography, literary criticism and cultural history, a scrupulous portrait of a genius as vast and contradictory as the continent he loved."
— The Barnes & Noble Review
"A bracingly comprehensive and authoritative account of the “poetry, personality, and politics” of one of the 20th century’s most revered poets….Eisner doesn’t let the enchantment of the verse soften his disapproval of the poet’s serial adultery or mistreatment of women, and questions Neruda’s self-appointed “people’s poet” status... Meanwhile, the descriptions of places where Neruda lived and traveled are poetry themselves."
— Publishers Weekly
Few poets have captured the global imagination like Pablo Neruda. In his native Chile, across Latin America, and in many other parts of the world, his name and legacy have become almost synonymous with liberation movements, and with the language of erotic love.
Neruda: The Poet’s Calling is the product of fifteen years of research by writer, translator, and documentary filmmaker Mark Eisner. The book vividly depicts Neruda’s monumental life, potent verse, and ardent belief in the “poet’s obligation” to use poetry for social good. It braids together three major strands of Neruda’s life—his world-revered poetry; his political engagement; and his tumultuous, even controversial, personal life—to form a single cohesive narrative of intimacy and breadth.
The fascinating events of Neruda’s life are interspersed with Eisner’s thoughtful examinations of the poems, both as works of art in their own right and as mirrors of Neruda’s life and times. The result is a book that animates Neruda’s riveting story in a new way—one that offers a compelling narrative version of Neruda’s life and work undergirded by exhaustive research, yet designed to bring this colossal literary figure to a broader audience.
"Eisner brings alive Latin America's greatest poet... Empathetic but unflinching when occasion calls for criticism, Eisner weaves his subject's stanzas that resonate with the poet's personal stories. A definitive biography and instant classic."
— Library Journal
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Praise for Neruda: The Poet’s Calling
"Eisner deftly weaves the strands of Neruda’s life into a narrative as intimate as it is sweeping. This book is an astounding accomplishment, an essential text, and a terrific joy to read.”
— Carolina de Robertis, The White Mountain
"An empathetic biography of the Chilean Nobel Prize winner... thoroughly researched, respectful, and evenhanded ...Perceptive readings of Neruda’s poems are contextualized by an absorbing historical, cultural, and political chronology."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Eisner's exacting and evocative prose will compel readers through each stage of the poet's life.. in this new standard-bearer among Neruda biographies."
“What a joy to have this big-hearted, exuberant biography of Neruda, infused with all the grandeur that the man commanded! What particularly commends the book is its mise-en-scène—the wider worlds of art, nature, politics, and social justice in which Neruda moved. A spirited and satisfying journey.”
— Marie Arana, Bolívar: American Liberator
"Mark Eisner skillfully captures Neruda’s life and many passions: for poetry, people, love, and public recognition, using a wealth of archival, textual, and oral sources, some previously unknown to us. This extraordinary account of Neruda’s life is not just for readers of poetry—it will tempt even those who don't normally read poetry to dive into the magic of Neruda."
— Gwen Kirkpatrick, Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown University
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