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Pablo Neruda

Author Biography

Author Biography
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Theme Analysis
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Figurative Language Analysis
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Writers Influenced by Neruda
Influence on World Literature
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Neruda's Work
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Pablo Neruda -

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Columbia’s most famous writer, once said "[Pablo Neruda], the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." Neruda is one of the most admired Spanish poets of the 20th century. His poems consisted of many different themes from "erotically charged" love poems, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos to more common poems more about nature and the sea.
Pablo Neruda was born as Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto on July 12, 1904 in Parral, Chile not too far from the capital, Santiago. José Del Carmen Reyes Morales, his father, was a railway employee and his mother, Rosa Neftalí Basoalto Opazo, was a schoolteacher whom died of tuberculosis shortly after Neruda was born. Don José Carmen moved with his sons in 1906 to Temuco, and married Trinidad Candia Marvedre. Neruda spent his childhood in Temuco, while in high school, he met the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, at which time was the head of the local all girls school. Mistral recognized Neruda's talent and passion for writing and encouraged him to embrace the gift and to persist on succeeding, even though his father did not approve.
At the age of thirteen Neruda published his first work; an essay he wrote for the local newspaper called “Entusiasmo y Perseverancia” (“Enthusiasm and Perseverance”). Around 1920 he was already a published author of journalism, and poetry, under the pen name of Pablo Neruda. By the time he was eighteen Neruda was more into his poetry than anything else. At nineteen he published his first volume of verse, “Crepusculario” (“Book of Twilights”), followed by “Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Canción Desesperada” (“Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair”), a compilation of love poems that were thought to be controversial because of its eroticism. Both works were translated into many languages, and “Veinte Poemas” would go on to sell millions of copies and become Neruda’s most recognized collection of work.
Since Neruda was in a state of poverty and desperation between the years of 1927 and 1935, the government had placed Neruda in charge of many honorary consulships that would send him to Burma, Ceylon, Singapore, Buenos Aires, and Spain. In Java he met and married his first wife Maryka Antonieata Hagenaar Vogelzang, a Dutch bank employee. Both the Spanish Civil War and the murder of close friend Garcia Lorca, a Spanish poet and dramatist, affected Neruda strongly and eventually led up to his joining of the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France. During 1939, Neruda had been recently appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, in Paris, and soon the Consul General in Mexico. In 1943 Neruda went back to Chile, and then in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, and also joined the Communist Party of Chile. In consequence of his protests against President González Videla’s tyrannical policy against striking miners in 1947, he was forced to live incognito for two years. Neruda's life underground ended in March 1949 when he fled over the Andes Mountains to Argentina on horseback, nearly drowning while crossing the Curringue River. Once out of Chile, Neruda spent the next three years in exile. A friend of Neruda, novelist and future Nobel Prize winner Miguel Ángel Asturias, was a cultural attaché to the Guatemalan embassy. Some slight similarities between the two men, allowed Neruda to enter Europe using Asturias's passport, where Pablo Picasso arranged Neruda’s entrance into Paris. He finally returned home in 1952.
While on diplomatic service, Neruda read large amounts of poetry and experimented with many different poetic forms. Neruda wrote, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, “Residencia en la tierra,” which led to his inevitable literary breakthrough. While in Mexico, during his exile, Neruda published his poem “Canto General,” a Whitmanesque catalogue of the history, geography, plant life, and animals of South America, along with his observation and experiences while underground in Chile. He actually carried this manuscript with him on his journey through the Andes Mountains. His first manuscript, which he had left behind in Chile, was published by the Communist Party of Chile.
In 1970 Neruda was asked to run for Presidency in Chile but kindly refused and passed over his nomination to Salvador Allende, whom was elected and became the first socialist president of Chile. Allende did appoint Neruda as the Chilean ambassador to France, but returned home after two and a half years due to failing health. Neruda died of leukemia shortly after, 1973, he returned to Chile. Matilde Urritia, Neruda’s second wife, compiled and edited the memoirs that Neruda had been working on prior to his death, for publication. These publications created conflict with Pinochet’s government, whom had recently overthrown President Salvador Allende and was responsible for over two thousand political assassinations. Pinochet repeatedly fought to interfere with Neruda’s influence over the country. Neruda’s poetry was banned by the Pinochet’s junta until the restoration of democracy in 1990.

"Look around — there's only one thing of danger for you here — poetry." Pablo Neruda

Young Pablo Neruda -

Pablo Neruda by Richard Montero CGHS