Gabriela Mistral Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

It is speculated that Lucila Godoy Alcayaga’s pen name, Gabriela Mistral (mee-STRAHL), comes from the names of two earlier poets, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Frédéric Mistral. “Gabriela” also recalls the angel Gabriel and “Mistral,” the Mediterranean wind. Spiritual and natural forces pervade her work, which generally displays the virtues of simplicity and clarity. Long considered a leading poet of Latin America, she saw her international recognition crowned when she became the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945.{$S[A]Alcayaga, Lucila Godoy;Mistral, Gabriela}

Mistral came from a humble background. Her father, Jerónimo Godoy, was a village schoolteacher in northern Chile when she was born; he was also known locally as a writer and singer of songs. He abandoned the family when she was three years old. Her childhood was spent in her small town, where she also later attended the local liceo, or high school. Her career as a schoolteacher began early, first by example. Like Mistral’s father, her mother, Petrolina Alcayaga de Molina, was a rural schoolteacher. The future teacher was once expelled from school for having pagan ideas, although she is universally recognized as one of the most spiritual poets of her time. Later she was a student at the pedagogical college at Santiago.

Mistral thought of herself primarily as a teacher rather than a poet. Her teaching career began at the age of fifteen, instructing small children in a rural school. Later she became a teacher in secondary schools. For a short time she was the mentor of young Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, who adopted the pen name of Pablo Neruda and was in 1971 the second Chilean to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1911 Mistral received the post of inspector-general and professor of history at the liceo in Antofagasta. A year later she was appointed inspector and professor of Castilian at the Liceo de los Andes, where she remained for six years.

By that time she had achieved some fame for her “Sonetos de la muerte” (“sonnets of death,” appearing...

(The entire section is 855 words.)


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Gabriela Mistral was one of the most famous poets to come out of Chile, and the first poet from a Latin American nation to win the Nobel...

(The entire section is 518 words.)