Born Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto in southern Chile on July 12, 1904, Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. In 1923 he sold all of his possessions to finance the publication of his first book, Crepusculario (“Twilight”). He published the volume under the pseudonym “Pablo Neruda” to avoid conflict with his family, who disapproved of his occupation.
The following year, he found a publisher for Veinte poemas de amor y una Cancion desesperada (“Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) making him a celebrity! In 1927, he began his long career as a diplomat in the Latin American tradition of honouring poets with diplomatic assignments. After serving as an honorary consul in Burma, he was named Chilean consul in Buenos Aires (1933).
His outspoken sympathy for the loyalist cause during the Spanish Civil War led to his recall from Madrid in 1937. He then moved to Paris and helped settle Spanish republican refugees in Chile. He returned to Chile in 1938 and left it 4 years later after being named Chilean Consul to Mexico (1939). Upon returning, he was elected to the Senate and joined the Communist Party. When the Chilean government moved to the right and communism was declared illegal, He was expelled and went into hiding where he wrote and published Canto General (1950). In 1952 the government withdrew the order to arrest leftist writers and political figures, and he returned to Chile. For the next 21 years, he continued his career and became known as the people’s poet.
During this time, he received numerous prestigious awards, including the International Peace Prize (1950), the Lenin Peace Prize and the Stalin Peace Prize (1953), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971). To honour him Magyar Postal Department has issued a commemorative stamp of value 1 Hungarian Forint in 1974.
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