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Pablo Neruda

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1971

Nobel Committee in its citation stated that the prize was given for "a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."

Born: 12/07/1904 in Parral, Chile

Died:  23/09/1973 in Santiago, Chile of Prostrate Cancer.

Citizen: Chile

Language: Spanish

Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, known by the pen-name and afterwards legal name Pablo Neruda (name taken from Czech Poet Jan Neruda and the first name is thought to be taken from French poet Paul Verlaine)  was born in Parral, a city in South Chile, about 350 km from Santiago. His father was a Railway employee and mother was a teacher. Soon after Neruda's birth, his mother expired, his father remarried and the young child stayed with a half-brother and half-sister.

 At the age of 10, Pablo composed his first poems. Gabriela Mistral, head of local Girl's High School, also encouraged Pablo. Neruda wrote and published poems, articles in local newspapers, journals and by 1920, he was a published poet.

   In 1927,he took honorary Consulship in Rangoon, capital of Burma ( now Myanmar) and also had stints in Colombo (capital of now Sri Lanka), Java and Singapore. During this period, he wrote 2 volumes of Residence En  La Tierra, which contained surrealistic poems and poems with different poetic forms. Pablo later replaced Gabriela Mistral as Consul in Madrid, Spain.

  His next important assignment was Consul General in Mexico City from 1940-43.This was a controversial period for him. He was accused of being an abettor in the assassination of Leon Trotsky. For his extreme supportive  views on Stalin and communism, his relation with Mexican writer Octavio Paz became not only  strained but also they came to almost blows at a meeting.

    In 1943, he went to Peru on a tour. The serene & majestic beauty of the Inca remains made him spellbound and he wrote a book-length poem  Alturas de Macchu Picchu consisting of 12 parts.

   Neruda's political views created complications back home and in 1948,he was threatened with arrest. After a brief period of hiding, he fled to Argentina on horseback and spent 3 years in exile in Buenos Aires. When Salvador Allende came to power in Chile, Neruda returned home and was made ambassador to France from 1970-72.

   On 11th September, 1973, Right Wing General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Allende government. Neruda was again under threat. His house was searched, his writings, papers , books were  seized and he was kept under surveillance. Ten days later, he died reportedly of heart failure. His death is still mired in controversy. The funeral took place in massive police presence.

Landmarks: The campaign that Neruda was a part of assassination attempt on Trotsky in Mexico by The Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anti-communist organization covertly established and funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency became more intense when it became known that Neruda was a candidate for the 1964 Nobel Prize, which was eventually awarded to Jean-Paul Sartre * Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was asked for his opinion of Pablo Neruda. Borges stated, "I think of him as a very fine poet, a very fine poet. I don't admire him as a man, I think of him as a very mean man."

Notable Works: Las uvas y el Viento -- The Grapes and the Wind(1954), Terear libro de las odas-- The Third Book of Odes(1957), Viajes-- Journeys(1958), Cien Sonetos de Amor-- One Hundred Love Sonnets (1959) , Memorial de isla Negra-- Notes from Isla Negra (1964), Canto general--  (1950),

Pablo Neruda

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