A review of Pablo Neruda's biography A Passion For Life by Adam Feinstein
On the other hand, in nearly 500 pages this biography sets out Neruda's family background, his conversations, his spats, his travels, his habits, his reading, his houses, his loves and his betrayals - even his meals. It describes Neruda's three wives, who get surprisingly short shrift in Neruda's own account of his life: the tall, awkward woman he married in Batavia, Maruca; the fabulous Delia del Carril, an Argentine aristocrat and a communist who for 18 years served as Neruda's political mentor, adviser, secretary and factotum; and the determined, practical Chilean, Matilde Urrutia, who looked after Neruda in his final years. In doing so, it draws on Neruda's letters, his friends' and acquaintances' recollections and his essays, all set in the extraordinary history of his time.
As such, it is a serious accomplishment: not the story of a life as Neruda might have written it, but an excellent adjunct to his writing.
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