Pablo Neruda Additional Biography


(World Poets and Poetry)

Pablo Neruda was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in the frontier town of Parral in the southern part of Chile on July 12, 1904. His mother died of tuberculosis a few days after his birth, and Neruda lived with his stepmother and father, a railroad conductor, in a tenement house with two other families. Hard work and an early introduction to literature and to the mysteries of manhood distinguished his first seventeen years. In school, the famous Chilean educator and poet Gabriela Mistral, herself a Nobel Prize winner, introduced the young Neruda to the great nineteenth century Russian novelists. In the fall of his sixteenth year, while he was assisting in the wheat harvest, a woman whom he was later unable to identify first introduced the young man to sex. A wide-ranging, voracious appetite for books and the wonders of love are memories to which Neruda continually returns in his work, as well as to the harsh Chilean landscape and the problems of survival that confronted his countrymen.

His father’s determination that Neruda should have a profession took the young poet to Santiago, where he intended to study French literature at the university. He had learned French and English in Temuco from his neighbors, many of whom were immigrants. His affiliation as contributor to the journal Claridad, with the politically active student group Federación de Estudiantes, and the attractions of life in a large city, where Neruda quickly made friends with many influential people, served to expand his original plans. While living with the widow of a German novelist, Neruda tried repeatedly to gain access to the offices of the Ministry of External Affairs, hoping to obtain a diplomatic post in Europe. More important, he had begun to write his first serious poetry during his evenings alone in a boardinghouse at 513 Maruri Street.

Neruda’s hatred of political oppression became firmly established when the students of a right-wing group attacked the officers of Claridad and the Santiago police freed the attackers and arrested the editors, one of whom died in jail. Thus, after a year and a half in Santiago, Neruda abandoned his university career and dramatically declared himself a poet and political activist, taking the pen name Pablo Neruda from the Czech writer Jan...

(The entire section is 939 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

ph_0111206395-Neruda.jpg Pablo Neruda Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Pablo Neruda was one of the greatest poets of the Spanish American avant-garde, sharing its many poetic heights and political lows. His Stalinism in (bad) verse never completely drowned the powerful poet in him; particularly the erotic strand in his work proved to be quite resilient and accounted for his resurrections. Neruda’s type of poetic Marxism was typical of the Latin American artistic appropriation of leftist revolutionary ideologies in the twentieth century.

He began writing poetry when he was ten years old. In 1920, he adopted the name Pablo Neruda. In 1924, when he was twenty years old, he published his most widely read book of romantic love poems. In 1927, he was named an honorary consul; it was in isolation and desperation in Ceylon that he wrote his most powerful avant-garde work, Residence on Earth. In the 1930’s he moved to Spain. He was particularly close to Federico García Lorca, whose murder at the hands of fascists came as a great shock.

Neruda reacted to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic by democratic nations—who refused to aid Spain—by embracing communism. During the war, he returned to Chile to start a long political career, which followed all the ups and downs of the Communist Party politics in his country and in Latin America. In 1948, he had to flee to exile, where he completed his grand epic song of Latin American geography, history, and politics, Canto general. The United States gets its due share of invectives in this book. Aside from the artistically embarrassing Stalinist hyperbole, Neruda in Canto general speaks on behalf of a contemporary Latin America injured periodically by U.S. imperial interests. Since his erotic poetry had no place in the party line at that time, he published The Captain’s Verses anonymously in Italy, pretending that it was a work of a captain in the Spanish Republican army. After Joseph Stalin’s influence waned, Neruda’s political stance softened, and he rediscovered poetry through odes on simple things and through erotic love sonnets. In the 1960’s, he welcomed the Cuban Revolution, but his love remained unrequited as the Cubans had their own ideas about the uses of Marxism. In La espada encendida, Neruda returned somewhat to his avant-garde visionary poetry of the 1930’s. He died of cancer during the first days of the Augusto Pinochet coup against the government of Salvador Allende in 1973.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Pablo Neruda (nay-REW-duh) is one of the greatest South American poets of the twentieth century. He was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, a small frontier town in Chile, to José del Carmen Reyes, a railway worker, and Rosa Basoalto, who died of tuberculosis shortly after Neruda’s birth. The family eventually moved to Temuco, where Neruda attended school and met, at the age of twelve, the poet Gabriela Mistral, who introduced him to the great classical writers. “In this frontier—or ‘far west’—of my country,” Neruda later wrote, “I was born to life, land, poetry, and rain.” At the age of seventeen, honoring his father’s wish that he be educated for a profession, Neruda left Temuco to study French at...

(The entire section is 932 words.)


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Neruda is one of the most-read poets in history. His collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair sold over a million copies in...

(The entire section is 767 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Pablo Neruda was born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto on July 12, 1904, in the agri- cultural region of Parral, Chile. His father...

(The entire section is 234 words.)