Pablo Neruda was a fascinating character. Born in 1904, he started writing poetry at age 13 and wrote in a wide variety of styles including surrealism, historical epics, political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and passionate love poems. One of his most famous includes Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despairwhich became famous and rather infamous for its eroticism. It was first published in 1924 and became Neruda’s most famous work, going onto sell twenty million copies worldwide.
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In addition to his poetic accomplishment, Pablo Neruda was internationally recognized as a diplomat, fostering relations between Chile and the world. However, he came under scrutiny when President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla outlawed communism and a warrant was issued for his arrest on account of Neruda’s own communist beliefs. Neruda hid in a basement for months before escaping into the mountains and fleeing to Argentina. He later returned to Chile and became a close advisor to President Salvador Allende. During this time, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, dramatically recounting his escape years earlier during his lecture at the event.
He died in 1973 when a military coup overthrew Allende’s government. His death is suspected as foul play: he was initially hospitalized for cancer and was reported to have died of a heart failure. However, in 2015 examination of his death found evidence he may have been given an injection that killed him, likely due to enemies that were overthrowing the regime he was loyal to. The case is still being looked at but Spanish medical doctors have reported it is highly likely Neruda did not perish of heart failure as was claimed.
Whatever the case, Neruda is a fascinating politician, diplomat, and a masterful poet. Celebrate his winning of the Nobel Prize today and crack open a few of his poem collections. We recommend:
Apple’s series reimagines Dickinson as a rebellious, party-girl type with aspirations of literary fame and fortune. The trailer takes a light-hearted tone that’s much different from the kind of atmosphere much of Dickinson’s poems create. Seeing her dance and strut across the screen, one struggles to imagine Steinfeld’s character penning the lines “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died – “ in the same way Dickinson did. It seems the creator of Dickinson might be taking a lot of creative liberties in portraying a poet known for her tendency to isolate herself from the world.
Still, this fresh take on one of America’s greatest poets is exciting! Jane Krakowski, famous for her comedic performance as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock, joins the cast alongside Steinfeld in this modernized take on Dickinson’s life.
Image via the wrap
Toby Huss, Anna Baryshnikov, Ella Hunt and Adrian Blake Enscoe round out the cast. With such a solid lineup, Dickinson has the potential to be really great!
The show was created, produced, and written by Alena Smith (The Affair, The Newsroom), so Dickinson fans will have to see just what she has in store! Filming concluded in March, and the new series will likely debut later this year on Apple’s new video subscription service.
Alena Smith, creator of Dickinson; Image Via ImDb
Are you excited about this modern take on a 19th-century favorite? Let us know on Instagram and Facebook after you check out the trailer!
Featured images via IMDb and the Emily Dickinson Museum
Sad news for the literary community. According to The New York Times Marie Pronsot, a prolific poet, has passed away at aged ninety-eight. During her lifetime, the poet embarked on a long and extraordinary writing career. By the time of her death, Pronsot had translated dozens of books, published seven volumes of poetry, and served as the chancellor at the Academy of American Poets from 2010 to 2014. She passed away with her husband in New York City. She began her carer in the 1950s, where she was first published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a native of Yonkers who championed the Beat poetry movement.
Image via the New York times
Ponsot’s first notable work was True Minds, was a collection of love poems for her husband. For nearly twenty-five years, this remained her only book, as Ponsot abandoned her poetry career in order to focus on her personal life. During this time, she had become divorced from her husband, leaving her in Manhattan with seven children to raise. But despite this, she continued writing, filling her notebooks with ideas, scribblings, and poems even in the midst of her personal exile from the poetry world.
In 1981, she resumed her career after ‘finding her feet’ and titled her second collection Admit Impediment. The opening poem of the collection was a direct response to her husband, to whom her last and first collection was dedicated. The poem goes:
Death is the price of life.
Lives change places.
we ever married, I smile
and mention the arbitrary fierce
glance of the working artist
that blazed sometimes in your face
but can’t picture it.
Image via The New York times
The collection went on to earn praise for its elegance, intimacy, as well as its rawness and fragility. It was followed by two sequels, the first in 1988 titled The Green Dark and the second in 1998 titled The Bird Catcher. The final one brought her National Attention, as well as increased praise and several awards. She described her process as writing ten minutes per day, pouring her life into the words and said she would encourage anyone to give poetry a go.
“Anyone can write a line of poetry. Try. That’s my word: try.”
Rest in peace, Marie Pronsot. You brought true imagination and love to the world of poetry.
Happy birthday Hans Christian Andersen! The Danish author was a writer of plays, poems, and short stories but he is best remembered today for his collection of fairy tales, of which he wrote over 3381. Famous fairy tales he have wrote you should be familiar with:The Little Mermaid,The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, and Thumbelina.However, he wrote many more beyond those and they’ve sadly faded from the public eye. Here at five of Andersen’s more obscure fairy stale, all strange and wonderful.
5. ‘On the Last Day’
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On the Last Day is a dark and surreal story about what one man witnesses after death. As the man follows Death into the afterlife, he witnesses strange and dream-like events. These include: a masquerade ball where animals poke out from beneath people’s clothing, black birds screaming at the man as he walks, and stones that cut his feet no matter where he runs. Eventually, the man figures out he is being punished for his wicked deeds in life and is shown forgiveness, allowed into the gates of Heaven.
4. ‘The Tinderbox’
Image Via Hans Christian Andersen.com
In this story, a solider runs across an old witch as he returns home from war. The witch tells if he climbs a tree he will be rich, which he does and finds three chests guard by three different dogs. The witch gives him an apron for each dog and tells him if he places the dogs upon it, he will be able to pass by without being attacked. The soldier succeeds and finds a tinderbox among the chests. The witch refuses to tell him what it’s for and the soldier kills her. He lives in luxury for sometime with the riches in the chests, until his money runs out. The soldier strikes the tinderbox in frustration and discovers he can summon the dogs with it to do his bidding.
He uses the dogs to kidnap the princess but the queen finds out and sentences him to the gallows. Before being hanged, the soldier uses an excuse for a smoke to strike the tinderbox three times and the dogs appear, massacring the queen’s men. The soldier is proclaimed the new king and a feast ensues, the solider lording over his new position as his loyal dogs watch the kingdom’s people warningly.
3. ‘The Wicked Prince’
The Wicked Prince tells of a titular evil and selfish prince who is so bent on conquering the world that he turns to great evil to accomplish his dream. He sends out his army across the world, as they ravage everything in their path, destroying cities, villages, homes, everything in their way. The prince absorbs kingdoms into his empire and attains so much wealth and glory that he becomes master of the world. But he still isn’t satisfied and decides to conquer Heaven itself. He builds a giant ship, which is pulled by hundreds of eagles and flies toward the sun.
An angel appears and the prince opens fire on it but the bullets deflect and one drop of the angel’s blood smashes a hole in the ship, sending it crashing into the forest. The prince survives and builds a new army of ships but the angels send a swarm of gnats against him. The gnat bites his ear and the pain drives the prince mad. He goes insane and is mocked by his own men, the great prince conquered by an insect.
2. ‘The Garden of Paradise’
Image Via American literature
A prince gets caught in a storm and takes shelter in a cavern. Inside, he finds a woman so strong and large she resembles a man. Her daughters arrive, pulled along by the Four Winds. The East Wind takes the prince to the Garden of Paradise, where a fairy tells the prince that she may not be touched. But he will be allowed to live there for 100 years if he resists the temptation to kiss her.
On the very first night, the fairy tempts the man and he realizes an eternity of suffering is worth a moment of bliss, he gives in and kisses her. The prince returns to Earth, now condemned to wander forever to atone for his sin.
1. ‘The Traveling Companion’
Image Via Hans Christian Anderson.com
This tale tells the story of a young wandering the world after his father has passed away. The man meets a mysterious stranger who becomes his traveling companion and they have a number of adventures together. Eventually, he sees the most beautiful princess in the world and falls in love with her, despite the little fact that she’s a complete psychotic murderer. If he fails to tell her what she’s thinking in three days, the princess will kill him. The prince goes through many trials to give her heart but manages to eventually tell her what she’s thinking of: a severed head! The prince is then instructed of how to cure her evil curse that makes her psychotic by his traveling companion and lives happily ever after with his new wife.
What are some of your favorite Hans Christian Andersen stories? Let us know! And happy birthday again to Andersen!
When we think of Geoffery Chaucer, we think of The Canterbury Tales, a work loved by literary scholars and passionate readers the world over (and loathed by undergraduate English majors). We do not, however, think of “a teenager wearing leggings so tight one churchman blamed the fashion for bringing back the plague.”
According to The Guardian, Associate Professor of English at Jesus College, Oxford, Marion Turner, who is Chaucer’s first female biographer, is also the first to look in depth at Chaucer’s fashion choices. While The Guardian notes that scholars have long known that Chaucer wore a ‘paltok’, bought for him as a teenager by his employer Elizabeth de Burgh, Turner notes that nobody seems to have investigated what exactly a ‘paltok’ was!
image via telegraph.co.uk (credit: ap)
Turner has discovered that paltoks were tunics, but not just any tunics! They were “extremely short garments… which failed to conceal their arses or their private parts.” She explains:
“No one had ever thought about what they were before [but] I found these were completely scandalous items. The paltok was skimpy and scanty, and underneath that there are these long leggings, or tights. Contemporary sources say they emphasised the genitals, as they were laced up very tightly over the penis and bottom, so you could see everything.”
IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN (DR. MARION TURNER)
Turner’s biograhpy, Chaucer: A European Life notes that the theologian John of Reading “explicitly blamed [paltoks] for causing the plague,” and “feared judgment from God for such outrageous sartorial choices.”
There were many biographies, written by men, throughout the years focused on Chaucer’s masculinity due to how he writes sympathetic women in his stories and poetry, in a time where toxic masculinity was the norm. Chaucer was someone who was ahead of his time and was with independent women, like his wife, who made her own money, and they lived independently rather than the traditional ways of marriage like most people lived by. Turner speculates that he took care of his daughter and always visited her at the nunnery where she was staying.
image via theconversation.com by Mrs H. R. Haweis
I loved it when Marion Turner gave a thoughtful explanation and connection to Chaucer’s feminism (at least I believe he’s a feminist) and his flamboyant fashion choices and make sense of it in his most recognizable work, The Wife of Bath. The most famous female figure in his work, the academic said “becomes an authority figure, which is great, because one of the things she talks about in her prologue is how men wrote all the stories and history is biased against women, and Chaucer makes her into an authority figure with gravitas. Of course she’s not a real woman, she’s Chaucer in drag, but he’s still emphasising the importance of recognising the bias of the literary canon.”
Read more of the article from The Guardian if you want to learn more of this fascinating find in literary history!
Featured Image Via The Guardian (Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)