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The career of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda for him Nobel Prize in Literature It was not easy. It took him more than 20 years to achieve it and had to overcome innumerable obstacles, among which a Peruvian and the CIA itself were involved. Until finally on December 10, 1971, that is, 50 years ago, he was able to take in his hands the highest award that can be given to a writer, and go down in history as the third Latin American to achieve it.
LOOK: Pablo Neruda, 50 years of the Nobel Prize in Literature: What was the path you followed to win the highest prize for literature?
Ever since the young Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto — Pablo Neruda’s first name — began to write poetry, he sought to become the best. According to the Nerudian diplomat and scholar Abraham Quezada, “As a result of his talent and poetic expertise, he quickly became known in Chile and in neighboring countries, because he has a work that could be classified as original, abundant and novel”.
From the 1920s to the 1950s, Neruda wrote eight books (among them, “Twenty love poems”, “Residence on Earth” and “Canto general”), which are perhaps the most important books of his production. He was already aware of his poetic quality and believed that he deserved the Nobel Prize. “Neruda knew that in Latin America there was only one other poet who could make the weight for him, that was César Vallejo, whom he considered his true peer.”, Says Quezada.
The Chilean poet was always attentive to Vallejo’s production. “There is a private letter sent to Carlos Morla Lynch from Asia, in July 1931, in which he comments on Vallejo’s poetry, and comments on it with annoyance – the Nerudian scholar details. You can tell that Vallejo’s poetic quality hurt him, but Neruda doesn’t say it anywhere yet. When Vallejo dies, he just says: ‘Vallejo was the best poet in Peru, the greatest, and he was my real brother. We did not compete, because our poetry was different‘”.
From the 50’s to 1973 (the year he died), Neruda wrote more than 30 books. This is the stage where you manage your talent. “Neruda begins to manage the trips and who he is meeting with. For example, he met four times with the leaders in the Government Palace of Peru”, He recalls. In addition, he is friends with Peruvian intellectuals such as Esteban Pavletich, Genaro Carnero Checa, Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Juan Mejía Baca, etc..
“Salazar Bondy published between 54 and 64 at least five large articles on Neruda in the newspapers. In one part it says that Neruda is a ‘poetry steelmaker’, since she wrote many poems. And Arturo Corcuera said that Neruda was not a tree, he was a forest; It was not a planet, but a constellation; he was not a poet but a mountain range of poets. They are talking about the poetic gale that was the Nerudian language”, Emphasizes the diplomat.
In 1956, Pablo Neruda was nominated for the Nobel Prize for the first time. His campaign to win the award was already underway and was bearing fruit. However, many anti-Nerudians set out to disqualify him, such as the Uruguayan Ricardo Paseyro and the Peruvian Eudocio Ravines. “He was a Cajamarcan communist militant, but he changed sides and became a harsh anti-communist. Neruda was very saddened when a man who was united with the people suddenly left everything and criticized him and the entire Chilean Communist Party.”, Explains Quezada.
In fact, the bat dedicated to Ravines the poem “Un tal Montero”, in which he unmasks him and tells him: “The poor renegade / from chamudés to chamudeces lives, / survives in presumptuous hotels / becoming more and more bitter / even elucidating in the void / now with no other company than his navel”.
Another barrier to obtaining the Nobel was his communist militancy. It is proven, for example, that in 1963 the CIA carried out covert operations to prevent Neruda from winning.. And it was successful: that year it was the Greek Yorgos Seferis who won the award. A year later, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel, but he did not accept it and asserted in a public letter that Neruda was the one who deserved it.
As Pablo Neruda delivered in the final lines of his memorable speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize, after ardent patience of more than two decades, the poet finally won the splendid award he deserved. On October 21, 1971, the Swedish Academy officially notified him, and on December 10, the award ceremony was held.
But why did he win it that year? According to Quezada, first, because the Latin American boom was being lived and there was an interest in writers from this part of the world. Second, the triumph of Salvador Allende, because it installed Chile in a unique experience: it won a Marxist government in a democratic way. Third, Neruda’s campaign to win the Nobel, among whose tactics was that Allende had sent him as ambassador to France, the cultural capital of the West. “And there was a fundamental reason: it was good that he did not win the Nobel Prize!”Emphasizes the diplomat.
The Chilean Government received the news with great joy. It was nothing less than the second Nobel Prize for Chile and the third for Latin America. “It was a moment of triumph, rejoicing and justice, because the poet deserved it decades ago, but it had been postponed for reasons known to all, but no one said.”, Affirms the Nerudian scholar.
As part of the celebrations, they flagged down several Chilean cities and there is a town in Santiago that happens to be called Pablo Neruda and its streets are named after his books. And they send the architectural plan to the poet. “But the great celebration takes place in November 1972, since a great tribute is paid to him at the National Stadium of Chile. That is the real tribute, because the poet was physically there”, Says Quezada.
In Peru they were also very happy. In 1971, Juan Velasco Alvarado was the president and he had met twice with the poet at the Government Palace. I already knew him well. “The Minister of Education, Alfredo Carpio Becerra, was responsible for delivering some impressions of the Nobel Prize to Neruda. He expressed his satisfaction and satisfaction, and then outlined that he had been chosen among many others because he deserves it, for his great qualities and even more for being a revolutionary poet.”, Abraham Quezada details.
Neruda’s Peruvian friends were happy. They said it was recognition not to a Chilean, but to a Latin American. The poet’s relationship with Peru was always very close. Neruda himself manifests the importance of our country in his poetry, in an interview in Lima in 1966. “Neruda had a long and intense relationship with Peruvian writers and the cultural elite. He visited Peru 10 times and there are many of his poems that are related to this country: ‘Heights of Machu Picchu’, the poems about Vallejo, the poems of his trip to Paita, etc. “.
In conclusion, 50 years ago Chile celebrated, Peru celebrated, the entire planet celebrated. “At last the work of a portentous, enormous poet was crowned, known throughout the world as the poet of love, justice and violated humanity, who was crowned with the prize of the immortals”, Indicates the diplomat.
The speech that Neruda delivered that December 10, 1971 after receiving the award has remained etched in our memory. However, few have managed to see the manuscript of this speech, in which Neruda writes in his typical green ink and makes corrections in lighter green ink. Abraham Quezada owns a copy of this document. “You can see that there is a change of locations from the end. Move the Rimbaud quote and close with that”, Says the researcher.
And this essential change causes the poet to crown the speech in a colossal way: “I must say to men of good will, to workers, to poets, that the entire future was expressed in that phrase by Rimbaud: only with ardent patience We will conquer the splendid city that will give light, justice and dignity to all men. Thus the poetry will not have sung in vain ”. After 50 years, his message is still valid.
Read here Pablo Neruda’s full speech.
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Pablo Neruda, 50 years after the Nobel Prize in Literature: behind the scenes of the award and the poet’s relationship with Peru