Pablo Neruda was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Chile on July 12, 1904. He is said to be the greatest poet of his lifetime who wrote in Spanish.
Neruda started writing around the age of ten, and his first piece, Enthusiasm and Perseverance was published at the age of thirteen by a local newspaper, La Manana. His compilation of poems, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, was published in 1924. This work helped him become known as an important Chilean poet. With this success, Neruda ended his formal education to pursue his love of writing poetry.
In addition to writing, Neruda held various diplomatic posts starting in 1927. When he returned to Chile in 1943, he was elected to the Senate and became part of the Communist Party.
Communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, and a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Because of this, he lost his Senate seat and had to flee from the authorities. Despite having to hide, Neruda continued writing during this time and published Canto General (1950).
In 1952 he returned to Chile because there was no longer a threat of being arrested. It was during this time that he married his third and final wife.
Neruda received various awards during his lifetime:
- International Peace Prize (1950)
- Lenin Peace Prize (1953)
- Stalin Peace Prize (1953)
- Nobel Prize for Literature (1971)
Pablo Neruda died of leukemia in Santiago, Chile on September 23, 1973.
Interesting Facts about Pablo Neruda
- Neruda went to school to become a French teacher before dropping out and turning his attention to poetry.
- Some of his poetry has been difficult to translate out of its native Spanish.
- His family did not approve of him having a career as a poet, which is why he used the pseudonym Pablo Neruda, which he chose out of memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda.
- He kept a framed picture of Walt Whitman on his table. Whitman was an inspiration for Neruda's own writing.
- Neruda's first wife could not speak Spanish.
- Neruda was known as the people's poet.
- Many of his poems showed a celebration of sexuality, which caused some controversy.
- His political views greatly influenced his poetry.
- The Chilean Communist party nominated Neruda for president in 1971.