While Pablo Neruda sparked numerous controversies during his lifetime, he remains one of the most influential writers of the modernist twentieth century. Without a doubt, his poetic ability was among the best of his generation, for which he received numerous accolades and honors, including the Nobel Prize for literature. This Chilean poet has been dubbed one of the ‘greatest poets of the twentieth century in any language’ due to his expansive body of work, which is typically surrealistic, erotic, or historical in nature. The majority of Neruda’s poetry was written in Spanish, and many readers from around the world struggled to disentangle his poetry from his zealous commitment to socialism. His works that are available in English or have been decoded in English represent only a small portion of his total output today. Apart from his writing career, he held a number of ambassadorial positions and also served as a Chilean Communist Party senator for a brief period. When communism was outlawed, Neruda was scheduled to be arrested, but he fled into exile. Many of his works today conjure vivid imagery and have the ability to rouse the soul. If you’re interested in learning more about this contentious yet fascinating personality, continue reading.
Childhood & Adolescence
In Parral, Chile, Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto (Pablo Neruda) was born. His father worked for the railroad, while his mother, who died shortly after his birth, was a teacher.
He began writing poems and articles as a teenager, which were first published in the daily ‘La Manana’. In 1920, he began writing under the pseudonym Pablo Neruda for the ‘Selva Austral,’ a name he derived from the Czech poet Jan Neruda.
Career of Pablo
He sold everything he owned in 1923 to fund the publication of his first book, ‘Crepusculario’ (Book of Twilights), under his penname. He used the alias to avoid clashes with his family, who objected to his choosing writing as a career.
In 1924, he also published a collection of love poems titled ‘Viente poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada’ (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair). A much later second edition was also published. By the time he was twenty, he had established himself as a competent poet, but he was in dire straits.
In 1926, ‘Tentativa del hombre infinito’ and ‘Tentativa y su esperanza’ (The inhabitant and his hope) were published as a collection and a novel, respectively.
Due to financial concerns, he accepted an honorary consulship in Rangoon, then a part of Burma, and isolated himself from the outside world, where he experimented with various forms of poetry.
In 1933, he published the first of three volumes of poetry titled ‘Residencia En La Tierra’ (Residence on Earth), which would eventually expand to include two additional volumes.
He returned to Chile and served in a number of diplomatic positions before becoming heavily involved in politics at the outbreak of the civil war. To demonstrate his support for the Republican cause, he published the collection ‘Espa an en el coraz n’ (Spain in the Heart) in 1938.
He was appointed superior consul for Spanish immigration in Paris following his election in 1938. Here, he was tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that he returned Spanish refugees to Chile aboard the ‘Winnipeg’.
He served as Consul General in Mexico City from 1940 to 1943. In 1943, he returned to Chile and visited the famed Machu Picchu, which inspired him to write an epic twelve-part poem titled ‘Alturas de Macchu Picchu’.
During World War II, he developed an admiration for Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, who was instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany. Between 1942 and 1943, he expressed his admiration for the leader in poems such as ‘Canto a Stalingrado’ and ‘Nuevo canto de amor a Stalingrado’.
He was elected senator for the Communist party of Antofagasta and Tarapaca on March 4, 1945. The following year, he was appointed campaign manager for Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, the Radical Party’s presidential nominee, whom he later came to criticize.
Fearful of capture, he fled and was removed from his post in September 1948, shortly before the Communist Party was banned entirely. His clandestine existence came to an end the following year, when he fled Chile and spent the next three years in exile in Buenos Aires.
He traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the Soviet Union during this time period. Between 1950 and 1952, he wrote the renowned ‘Canto General’, a collection of over 231 poems, and also published ‘Los versos del Capit n’ under an anonymous pen name.
By the end of 1952, he had returned to Chile and was already enjoying worldwide fame as a poet. He was invited to the International PEN conference in New York City fourteen years later.
He was nominated for the Chilean presidency in 1970, but he opted to let Salvador Allende win the elections. Neruda was appointed Chile’s ambassador to France shortly after Allende was elected president.
Significant Works of Pablo
‘Viente poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada’ (Twenty Love Poems and a Despair Song), published in 1924, was his second book and established his reputation as a poet.
Although contentious, this work became known as one of his greatest and has been translated into numerous languages. The ‘poemas’ have sold over a million copies worldwide, and despite its youth, it is widely regarded as his ‘best-known work’.
Awards and Accomplishments
Neruda received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953. He received the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature for his literary contributions. In 1972, he received the Golden Wreath Award at the Struga Poetry Evenings.
Personal History and Legacies
He married Maryka Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzang, a bank employee, while working a shift in Java. He later divorced his wife and began an affair with and married Delia del Carril, a woman 20 years his senior.
Matilde Urrutia, a Chilean singer, was hired to look after him during his exile, and he began having an affair with her. This eventually resulted in marriage, and she even served as the inspiration for one of his works.
He reconciled with his wife, del Carril, upon his return to Chile from exile, but the marriage began to disintegrate. She eventually discovered his affair with Urrutia, and Neruda returned to Urrutia, with whom he would spend the remainder of his years.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and died in 1973 from heart failure. Following his death, his autobiography, ‘I Confess I Have Lived,’ was published in the 1980s, as was Urrutia’s memoir, ‘My Life with Pablo Neruda.’
In popular culture, he has been referenced in films, literature, and music. This includes references to his name or works in films such as ‘Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling’, books such as ‘El caso Neruda’, and albums such as ‘The Pretender’ and ‘Neruda Songs’. Additionally, he owned three houses in Chile, which have been converted into public museums.
Estimated Net Worth
Pablo is one of the wealthiest poets and is ranked as one of the most popular poets. According to our analysis, Pablo Neruda’s net worth is approximately $1.5 million, as reported by Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
There were allegations that this eminent Chilean writer and diplomat was assassinated during the Pinochet regime, and in order to ascertain the truth, the Chilean government directed that the remains of this great personality be exhumed and subjected to laboratory testing.