Neruda, Pablo (1904-1973).
Los versos del capitan. Naples, Arte Tipografica, 8 July 1952.
4° (246x165 mm). 181,  pages, including the Elenco de los subscriptores and Index. Original publisher's wrappers. Excellent copy, minor wear to the foot of the spine. Front wrapper slightly foxed. Copy no. 35, printed for the 'subscriptor' Bruno Molajoli.
Provenance: the Italian art historian Bruno Molajoli (1905-1985), one of the subscribers of this publication.
The first edition of one of the rarest twentieth-century books, issued anonymously – or, as the colophon states, “de autor desconocido” – in only forty four copies printed for friends and subscribers.
Los versos del capitan is considered one of the masterpieces of the celebrated Chilean poet and 1971 Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, whose real name was Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.
Owing to his protests against President González Videla's authoritarian policy, Neruda was forced to flee Chile for Europe. The poetic collection Los versos del capitan was written in 1952 during his exile on the island of Capri and published in Naples on 8 July 1952 by Arte Tipografica, the press led by his friend Angelo Rossi.
The collection contains Neruda's passionate love songs addressed to his muse, Matilde Urrutia (1912-1985), who became his third wife in 1963, and ultimately his widow. The first edition was published without mention of Neruda's name as their love affair was still a secret at the time.
Neruda's stay in Italy was fictionalized in Antonio Skarmeta's 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia, which inspired the popular film Il Postino (The Postman, 1994), directed by Massimo Troisi.
The work only appeared in Chile in 1963, in a publication bearing the name of Neruda as the author.
J. Wilson, A Companion to Pablo Neruda: Evaluating Neruda's Poetry, Woodbridge 2008, pp. 194-196; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 286.