Thursday, 11 September 2014

Neruda week: Matilde Urrutia

This is a short video about the the three wives of Pablo Neruda. Very good short intro!




Pablo Neruda dedicated his 100 Love Sonnets to Mathilde Urrutia. But who was she?
Matilde Urrutia was a singer before she took up with Neruda. The pair met in 1946. Neruda and his second wife, Delia, were attending a concert in Santiago; Matilde caught his eye immediately with her fiery red hair. We don’t generally think of someone who can love so deeply and write about it so beautifully as being a bit of a scoundrel, but Neruda was; he hired her in 1949 to be his nurse while they began their illicit affair under Delia’s nose. He and Matilde eventually had a home together and had been “symbolically” married while Delia was still . . . well, I was going to say “actually” married to Neruda, but from what I understand, their marriage wasn’t completely legally recognized because of Neruda’s first wife. This wasn’t the first time Neruda had taken a new lover while still married, it seems.

The Pablo Neruda Foundation’s website notes, in 1951:

Matilde Urrutia arrived in Paris. Neruda was in the GDR, participating in the Third World Youth Festival, at which Matilda had also been invited to sing. They met in Berlin. In her memoirs, she wrote, “that taste of sin, to be lying, to hide, to conceal, was the biggest incentive for our love, those furtive glances… the complicity of every minute was something that grew the desire to be together, to touch, and this desire is devouring us, drags us to the conviction that we cannot live separately…”

Delia left Neruda permanently in 1955; Matilde transformed from a mistress living in the shadows to Neruda’s strong and loving wife. She left everything in her life to be with Neruda.

A painting of Matilde that hangs in their home, La Chascona, in Santiago. It portrays two faces–the public singer and the woman that Neruda privately loved. In her hair, Neruda’s profile is hidden to signify their secret relationship.

One side of her face is the public face of people who knew her as a singer, the other side Neruda knew her as a lover. In the hair is the face of Pablo Neruda hidden

Matilde was Neruda’s last wife and fiercest protector. She forgave him his trespasses, and when she couldn’t, she sought only small revenges; instead of leaving him when he had an affair with her niece, she voted against his candidate in a major political election. (Granted, with Neruda’s political focus, voting against him wouldn’t have been “small.”) When he passed in 1973, she stayed with his body, weeping, unable to leave him. When she slept, she clung to him still.

After his death, Matilde took up the mantle of Neruda’s political causes. She suffered for this; the political climate in Chile at the time was stormy enough for many to believe that Neruda had been murdered by political enemies. In her will, she directed their estate to create the Pablo Neruda Foundation, primarily dedicated to maintaining his legacy.


Sources: “Lover and guardian: Matilde Urrutia”
               Biography Mathilde Urrutia

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