Mistral

Mistral

[mis-truhl, mi-strahl]
Mistral, Frédéric, 1830-1914, French Provençal poet. With Théodore Aubanel he was one of the seven founders (1854) of the Félibrige, an organization to promote Provençal as a literary language (see Provençal literature). He was the leader of the movement and was recognized as its greatest poet. Besides many short poems he wrote four verse romances, notably Mirèio (1859, tr. 1867). He published a Provençal dictionary (1878-86) and wrote memoirs (tr. 1907). His verse is characterized rather by ease and beauty of language than by power of thought. He shared with Echegaray the 1904 Nobel Prize in Literature.

See his memoirs, tr. by G. Wickes (1986); studies by C. A. Downer (1901), R. Aldington (1960), and T. Edwards (1965).

Mistral, Gabriela, 1889-1957, Chilean poet whose original name was Lucila Godoy Alcayaga. She was a teacher in and director of rural schools in Chile before she attained wider acclaim as an educator. Mistral was noted for her revision of the Mexican school system under José Vasconcelos. Subsequently, she served as Chilean consul in various European and Latin American cities and represented her country at the League of Nations and the United Nations. The mystery of childbearing, the sorrow of a tragic love, and a burning desire for justice are recurrent themes of her fluent and lyric verse. The early Sonetos de la muerte [sonnets of death] (1915) is considered one of her finest achievements. Desolación (1922), Tala (1938), and Lagar (1954) are three of her major volumes. Selected Poems, translated by Langston Hughes, was published in 1957. In 1945, Mistral received the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Latin American to be so honored.

See studies by M. C. Preston (1964) and M. C. Taylor (1968).

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