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STILL ANOTHER DAY (Aún) READING GUIDE

Still Another Day

AUTHOR BIO (from Copper Canyon)

Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile in 1904. During his lifetime, he served as consul in Burma (now Myanmar) and held diplomatic posts in various East Asian and European countries. In 1945, a few years after he joined the Communist Party, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate. Shortly thereafter, when Chile's political climate took a sudden turn to the right, Neruda fled to Mexico, and lived as an exile for several years. He later established a permanent home at Isla Negra in Chile. In 1970 he was appointed as Chile's ambassador to France, and in 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Pablo Neruda died in 1973.

 

SUMMARY OF THE NOVEL

Aún, one long work made of many short poems, is considered to be among Neruda's finest long poems. This edition includes an English version, by William O'Daly, that is the first authorized translation. Neruda was very aware of his imminent death when he wrote these 28 cantos. They were composed during two intensely lyrical days, launching the poet on a personal expedition in search of his deepest roots. Aún is a soaring tribute to the history and survival of the Chilean people. The poem invokes the Araucanian Indians, the conquistadors who tried to enslave them, folklore, the people and places of his childhood and the sights and smells of the marketplace. As in the best poetry, Neruda's particulars become profoundly universal.

FOR DISCUSSION:

  1. In Aún, Pablo Neruda uses many images from his past and from the history of his country. He mentions the rain, the coldness of the winter, the ocean, people he has known, people from history and much else. What emotional impression did you have of the poem? Is it sad, triumphant, hopeful, proud, angry, something else? Are the feelings the poem brings up when you read it different from your feelings about your own life and about the place or places where you are from?

  2. What object or incident from your past comes to mind that is like Neruda remembering the "hundred year-old-hand" ["mano de cien años"] of his grandfather, Don José Angel Reyes? How old was the oldest relative you remember? How old were you when you knew that family member? When was that person born?

  3. Neruda mentions the Araucanian Indians and also the Spanish "invaders" among many others. "Penso que el espanol de zapatos morados." Do you feel connected to people, outside of your own family, from where you live now or from where you are from?

  4. Pablo Neruda is one of the best known and beloved poets of all time. Do you remember hearing about Neruda winning the Nobel Prize in 1971? Did you hear about the public response to his funeral in 1973? How did you feel about him then? How do you feel about him now?

  5. Do any of the lines in this book remind you of music or of a particular song? Do the lines in the poem sound like speech? Do you have a favorite line or stanza?

This reading group guide is provided by Small Press Distribution to Engage as You Age as part of the "I Remember Project" to support reading groups for seniors in Marin Country. SPD's "I Remember Project" is generously supported by the Marin Community Foundation.

Marin Community Foundation
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