Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General

Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General

Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General

Neruda's Ekphrastic Experience: Mural Art and Canto General

Synopsis

Against a background of Mexican rural art, this study of Neruda's Canto general combines a rigorous structuralist approach to the analysis of poetry and painting, with new distinctions of ekphrastic poetry and recent philosophical debates about logocentrism and oculocentrism.

Excerpt

Pablo Neruda's return to America in 1937 prefigures a FUNDAmental change in his poetry, a shift from a tone of existential despair to hope through social and political commitment. Beginning with Canto general (1950), and even as early as the fifth section of the Tercera residencia (Third Residence) (1942), Neruda's poetry adopts a very different manner of expression from that of his earlier writings. This change has been previously attributed to Neruda's Spanish Civil War experience and the outbreak of World War ii, but it has more recently been argued that the major transition in Neruda's poetry occurs only after his return to America and his residence in Mexico. a careful and detailed study of Neruda's writings during his years as Chilean consul in Mexico (1940–43) confirms that it is during this period that his poetic expression crystallizes and achieves maturity, and his perspective widens from personal and local concerns to encompass continental issues. the Mexican mural movement, at its apex at the time of Neruda's stay, was key in this development.

From 1940 to 1943, Pablo Neruda represented the Chilean government as consul to Mexico. Neruda was well acquainted with Mexico's history and participated in the intellectual and political life of the country during his years there. As Frank Reiss has stated, “Neruda's stay in Mexico and his contact with a wellestablished social, historical and literary tradition must have played an important part in shaping the Canto general.” Hernán Uribe writes that it was precisely in Mexico where Neruda's political positions are solidified and where a good part of his artistic work was conceived: that the poet frequently finds poetic inspiration in the land of the Aztecs, especially in his treatment of Latin American themes. It is often overlooked that Neruda originally published many poems of Canto general, composed between 1940 and 1950, in Mexican journals and newspapers, particularly between 1940 and 1943. Clearly, Neruda's Mexican years were vital to his artistic development and shaped his future production.

Until now, no formal systematic analysis has been undertaken to examine Neruda's Mexican experience, though several studies . . .

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