Translating Neruda by John Felstiner

Pablo Neruda ( is greatly revered by aficionados of Spanish poetry. You may have enjoyed his work in the original language, or read a translation. But what is entailed in translating a poem? How much is lost, and what, if anything, is gained?

Usually the process gets forgotten once a newly translated poem is published. Yet a verse translation derives from historical, biographical, and philosophical research, interpretive analysis of the original poem, and many active choices. Taking as a text Pablo Neruda’s brilliant prophetic sequence Alturas de Macchu Picchu (1945), John Felstiner re-creates the entire process of translation, from his first encounter with the poem to the last shaping of a phrase that may never come right in English.

This many-faceted book forms an essay on the theory and practice of literary translation, a study of Neruda’s career through 1945, and an interpretation of his major poem, all of which lead to a striking new poem in English, Heights of Macchu Picchu, printed along with the original Spanish. This working of a verse translation also includes little-known biographical data, hitherto untranslated poems and prose from the years 1920 to 1945, and new translations of key poems from Neruda’s Residence on Earth and Spain in My Heart.  This book will be enjoyed by theorists of the art of poetry and lovers of Neruda alike.

Check if this book about poetry and Neruda is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at

296 pages in Stanford University Press

First published 1980

ISBN  978-0804710794

Image result for john felstiner

John Felstiner

Scroll to Top