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NERUDA, Pablo.

Un canto para Bolivar.

Availability: In stock

Published: Mexico City Imprenta Universitaria, 1941

Stock Code: 124282

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition, presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title, "Para Gomez Sicre, afectuosamente, Neruda, 1942, Mex". The recipient was the noted Cuban lawyer, art critic and author José Gómez Sicre (1916-1991), an important conduit for Latin American artists seeking an audience in the United States. He moved in the same artistic and political circles as Neruda in both America and Europe. At the time of the inscription, Neruda held a diplomatic post as Consul General in Mexico City and Gómez Sicre would soon embark on a six-month sabbatical in New York, helping organise the MoMA exhibition Contemporary Cuban Painting.
This poem, one of 500 copies printed, is an openly political work praising Simón Bolívar, the liberator of South America from Spanish colonialism. Beginning with a verse modelled after the Lord's Prayer that substitutes Bolívar for God, Neruda places Bolívar on the battle lines in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. De Costa argues that this poem marks a new direction for Neruda, in that he uses America as the subject for a new poetry of commitment (de Costa 104). The poem was composed for a reading in the Teatro Bolívar of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico on 24 July 1941, the 111th anniversary of Bolívar's death. Neruda reportedly had a case of writer's block, which he shifted with a glass of absinthe only a few hours before the reading.
Spanish exile Joaquín Xirau gave a speech before Neruda's reading in which he claimed that Bolívar was a "Spanish patriot" (Siqueiros). This politically charged statement, aligning Bolívar with the Spanish Republicans, annoyed some Franco supporters in the audience. The political tone of Neruda's poem further irritated them and they interrupted him with cries of "Death to the Spanish Republic" and "Long live the Generalissimo". A near-riot ensued; UNAM printed Neruda's poem in this lovely edition to make amends.

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Quarto. Original white card wrappers printed in brown and black, edges untrimmed, title page in brown and black and with vignette and border decoration, initials in brown. With the original unprinted glassine wrappers, lightly pasted onto inner covers at folds.


Spine rubbed at tips and with short split at foot, endleaves a little spotted. A near-fine copy in the faintly marked glassine, chipped along the spine.


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