November 24, 2020

Neruda’s intimate life, by auction | Culture


Dedication of Neruda to García Márquez in a first edition of ‘Twenty love poems and a desperate song’. In video, images of the collection.



The ink is green, as it was almost always, and the urgent letter, tilted to the right. The recipient of the dedication, a future Nobel as he had just been then, Gabriel García Márquez: “Dear friend, with my congratulations on this ‘find’ of almost 50 years ago and that neither I have. Hugs you, Pablo Neruda. 1971. Paris ”. Indeed, not even the Chilean writer has a single copy of the first edition of his mythical Twenty love poems and a desperate song, from 1924, published by Nascimento. In addition, poem number 2, on page 5, is loaded with handwritten corrections (yes, of course, in green) … A jewel, but only one of the 603 that make up the exceptional lot that will be released on March 19 sale at the auction house La Suite de Barcelona with books, manuscripts and professional and personal documents from Neruda. A single lot with a starting price at the height of its content: 650,000 euros. All unusual for these literary latitudes.

“It is a cave of Alí Babá of paper”, art critic Juan Manuel Bonet qualifies, tireless when reciting unrepeatable content between the 21 manuscript poems, 91 first editions (50 of them with dedication and / or autograph), a hundred photographs and 89 letters, in addition to catalogs, magazines and up to 42 vinyls. A treasure that now emerges after 25 years of passionate collecting by Riojan winemaker businessman Santiago Vivanco. Among what experts rate as the most important documentation about Neruda in private hands there is, of course, a first edition of Twilight (1923), Nerudian inaugural poems. Also an edition of Residence on Earth, of 1931, of only 100 copies, or a complete collection, very rare, of the four issues of the magazine Green horse for poetry (1935), which he directed.

Two etchings


Photograph by Pablo Neruda from 1923, another piece of the auction.



enlarge photo
Photograph by Pablo Neruda from 1923, another piece of the auction.

The war’s book stands out from the writer’s ties with the Civil War Spain in the heart (1937), with stunning photomontages by Pedro Olmos, a copy embellished by the autograph dedication to actress Margarita Xirgu. More overwhelming, for the dramatic end in a fascist prison of the author of the lines, is the handwritten note on a pbrown apel that the poet Miguel Hernández sends in 1938 to Neruda: “We will go Vicente [Aleixandre]Antonillo [Aparicio] and I to your sad and beautiful land. We have to go, and we will rest from this fight, and breathe the air we need. ” Graphic lovers can enjoy two Miró etchings that illustrate the artist’s book The survivor visits the birds, or a copy of the 1950 Mexican edition of the General sing, by the painter Miguel Prieto, with guards designed by Diego Rivera and Siqueiros. Or, already wearing the famous green ink, with a calligraphy for the singer Violeta Parra, from 1966, where Neruda draws an eye and a beautiful violin.

The lot allows to follow the literary trajectory, but also vital, from Neruda, as correspondence with his sister Laura or with his wives Maria Antonieta Hagenaar and Delia del Carril shows; or his 1963 Popular Action Front card, confirming his strong political commitment (“I became a communist when the Spanish Civil War” will write in his memoirs), which led him to participate in 1970 in the presidential campaign of Salvador Allende , to whom he dedicates a couple of books in rare editions present in the lot.

“As a young crush who wrote verses, when they did not come out I used Neruda because he told love in positive; Over the years, I fell in love more with the person than with the work, ”he said yesterday at the presentation of the Vivanco auction, which he confessed that he cried inconsolably when he visited Isla Negra (where the poet is buried) and that he put his daughter Marina’s name in tribute to that of the writer (Malva Marina, who died in 1942). “I can no longer give for this collection; it is about a large public or private library picking up the witness and can expand it, expose it and facilitate the work of the investigators, ”he argues to justify detachment from it now.

With that will, Vivanco (born in 1973, the year of Neruda’s death) imposed that his collection go on auction in a single lot, and rules out that a future buyer wants it to resell it in parts. “Who makes an economic effort like that, I don’t think he cuts it,” he says.

Despite this, he admits that he has not offered it to a public institution, although he acknowledges to this newspaper that “the Chilean embassy is informed of the auction” and that it maintains “good contacts” with the National Library of Spain. In this case, he says, he is aware that the price is high and that “we are also talking about a Chilean author.” National Library sources told this newspaper that they had no record of the auction, but they would study, although they admitted its high price, more affordable for American firms or universities. To this possibility is added that the material is not subject to patrimonial protection that prevents its departure from Spain. The bid may be do online and in real time.

Vivanco, which also promotes a art gallery in its Wine Museum, in Briones, ruled out the donation. “The economic effort has been enormous and I want to continue growing my personal library,” where a fund by Jorge Luis Borges flourishes. De Neruda has been left with only “a passport and some minor dedicated editions”.

The great-granddaughter of the Nobel lover

Santiago Vivanco has traveled half the world acquiring pieces of Pablo Neruda, but one of the ones he likes, a first edition of Residence on Earth, was almost next to home. “They told me that a girl from a school in Logroño said in class that her great grandmother had been Neruda’s lover and I kept track.” The young woman, indeed, was a relative of Olga Margarita Burgos, the first Chilean dentist, lover of the poet, who entertained her with madness. Two other jewels of the lot to be auctioned are both a letter to her that she carries as an obsessive valance “writewrite” as a photo of the poet from 1933, wearing a hat, where she points as a dedication: “To Olga’s mouth, to the skin from Olga, to the heart of Olga ”, almost literal fragments of the letter. The family owns a good relationship of first editions and missives, many of them finally fell to the convincing collector who, in an unusual way, did not hide as a seller of the literary treasure of the Nobel Prize of 1971.

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