Introduction To Juan Émar’s Diez

Pablo Neruda

I knew Juan Émar intimately and yet I never knew him. He had great friends whom he never met. Women who never touched more than his skin. A relative they put up with the way they put up with a long chill.
He was a quiet, cunning, singular man. He was a lazy man who worked his entire life. He went from country to country, with neither enthusiasm nor pride nor rebelliousness, exiling himself through his own decrees. Now we will try to give this exile what he never had: the nationality of love.
Our uninhabited country ignored this silent man, taking his silence as a premonition, as a mortal warning. The South American writer of his age was vociferous and solitary. Juan Émar was quiet and eccentric. Now that his contemporaries have ceased to speak and to exist, to vociferate and endure, we must decode him. He will now begin to speak to us and to receive what never mattered to him: the validation and permanence of a hero overlooked by those who were ephemeral. He hid his vanity, if he had any, in the threads of his soul. And for those who search it is a dark world: no one looks into the darkness: we all want to be part of the multitude. Juan Émar was the solitary searcher who lived amongst the multitudes without ever being seen, without ever being loved. He had no home; he was always a transient.
Now that the literary cliques are worshipping Kafka, here we have our own Kafka to take us through underground words, to lead us through labyrinths, to guide us through infinite tunnels of mystery.
I was fortunate enough to have respected him in these republics of disrespect and literary treason. Here we look to writers only to give honors and awards to. It is a beehive without dignity and the best bees go elsewhere for their honey. They do good, they do bad.
My comrade Juan Émar will now get what here we are not stingy with: posthumous respect.
For in his calm delirium this man who was always ahead of his time left us as testimony a living world populated by that unreal which is always part of the permanent.

Isla Negra, August 1970