Neruda, Pablo

Neruda, Pablo

Neruda, Pablo, 1904-73, Chilean poet, diplomat, and Communist leader. He changed his original name, Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basualto, so that his railroad-worker father would not discover that he was a poet. Neruda's highly personal poetry brought him enormous acclaim. After 1927 he was in consular service in East Asia, Argentina, Mexico, and Europe. A surrealist, Neruda revitalized everyday expressions and employed bold metaphors in free verse. His evocative poems are filled with grief and despair and bespeak a quest for simplicity. They celebrate the dramatic Chilean landscape and rage against the exploitation of the indigenous people. In his writings and during his political career as a leader of the Chilean Communist party (which he joined in 1945) and as a diplomat, Neruda exerted a wide influence in Latin America. His many volumes of poetry include Crepusculario [twilight book] (1919, his first book), Twenty Love Poems and One Song of Despair (1924, tr. 1969), the surrealistic Residence on Earth and Other Poems (1933, tr. 1946), Canto general (1950), Elemental Odes (1954, tr. 1961), Nuevas odas elementales [new elemental odes] (1955), A New Decade: 1958-1967 (tr. 1969), Extravagaria (1958, tr. 1974), New Poems: 1968-1970 (tr. 1972), and Toward the Splendid City (tr. 1974). Neruda was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature during his service as Chilean ambassador to France. Neruda died in Chile during the week of the 1973 military coup.

See his Early Poems (tr. 1969), Selected Poems (tr. 1970), and The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003); P. Neruda, N. Parra, and M. Gottlieb, Pablo Neruda and Nicanor Parra Face to Face (1997).

orig. Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

Pablo Neruda.

(born July 12, 1904, Parral, Chile—died Sept. 23, 1973, Santiago) Chilean poet and diplomat. He began writing poetry at age 10, and at 20 he published his most widely read work, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924), inspired by an unhappy love affair. In 1927 he was named an honorary consul, and he later represented Chile in several Asian and Latin American countries; late in life he was ambassador to France. While in Asia he began Residence on Earth (1933, 1935, 1947), a verse cycle remarkable for its examination of social decay and personal isolation. In 1945 he was elected senator and joined the Communist Party; he later spent years in exile when the government turned toward the right. Canto General (1950), his great epic poem about the American continents, was deeply influenced by Walt Whitman and is the culminating expression of his political beliefs. Elemental Odes (1954) celebrates common, everyday objects. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

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