Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Neruda, Pablo
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(pä'blō nāru'ðä), 1904–73, Chilean poet, diplomat, and Communist leader. He changed his original name, Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, so that his railroad-worker father would not discover that he was a poet. Neruda's highly personal poetry brought him enormous acclaim. After 1927 he was in consular service in East Asia, Argentina, Mexico, and Europe. A surrealist, Neruda revitalized everyday expressions and employed bold metaphors in free verse. His evocative poems are filled with grief and despair and bespeak a quest for simplicity. They celebrate the dramatic Chilean landscape and rage against the exploitation of the indigenous people. In his writings and during his political career as a leader of the Chilean Communist party (which he joined in 1945) and as a diplomat, Neruda exerted a wide influence in Latin America. His many volumes of poetry include Crepusculario [twilight book] (1919, his first book), Twenty Love Poems and One Song of Despair (1924, tr. 1969), the surrealistic Residence on Earth and Other Poems (1933, tr. 1946), Canto general (1950), Elemental Odes (1954, tr. 1961), Nuevas odas elementales [new elemental odes] (1955), A New Decade: 1958–1967 (tr. 1969), Extravagaria (1958, tr. 1974), New Poems: 1968–1970 (tr. 1972), and Toward the Splendid City (tr. 1974). Neruda was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature during his service as Chilean ambassador to France. Neruda died in Chile during the week of the 1973 military coup.

  • See his Early Poems (tr. 1969), Selected Poems (tr. 1970), and The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003);.
  • Neruda, P.,N. Parra, and M. Gottlieb, Pablo Neruda and Nicanor Parra Face to Face (1997).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Articles


Full text Article Neruda, Pablo 1904-1973
Concise Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature

Chilean poet Among the most prolific of Latin American poets, Pablo Neruda was and arguably is the most widely read of the Spanish American...

Full text Article Neruda, Pablo
Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Literature, 1900-2003

b. 1904, Temuco, Chile; d. 1973, Isla Negra, Chile Poet The embodiment of the poet as a public figure, Neruda (born Neftalí Reyes) is probably...

Full text Article NERUDA, PABLO (NEFTALÍ RICARDO REYES BOSOALTO) (1904-1973)
France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History

Writer, poet, and Nobel laureate. Neruda is a national literary icon in his native country of Chile, but he lived much of his life abroad,...

See more from Credo