Journal of Romance Studies

‘Diez años de tarea solitaria’: Neruda and the Veinte poemas de amor

Journal of Romance Studies (2005), 5, (2), 37–57.

Abstract

This essay analyses one of the best known of Pablo Neruda’s Veinte poemas de amor (1924) in the light of his claim that the collection was the result of ten years’ solitary labour. In particular, it tests the poet’s assertion that his verse underwent a fundamental change of style and direction after he stopped work on El hondero entusiasta (1923–4, published in 1933), a vast project which he had mapped out in considerable detail but which he felt obliged to abandon when – at least according to Neruda himself – it transpired that it bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the work of the Uruguayan poet Carlos Sabat Ercasty. The article argues that the transition from one collection to the other was anything but smooth and clear-cut, that significant traces of El hondero are visible throughout the Veinte poemas, and that the latter are best read not as the consequence of that transition, but rather as part of the transitional process itself, that is, as exercises in poetic style and form.

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Moran, Dominic