Revealed the ‘Neruda case’, a Nobel questioned

The candidacy of Pablo Neruda, of recognized communist affiliation, was involved in a controversy that lasted several years before the Chilean author in 1971 became the second Latin American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Since then, ten more Spanish speakers have achieved the highest literary award, six from Latin America and four from Spain.

Yesterday, 50 years later, the secret minutes that summarize the deliberations of the members of the Nobel Committee were made public. Its content reveals to what extent Neruda was a controversial author among its members and other permanent actors of the Academy due to his affiliation to the Chilean Communist Party, a fact that did not obtain the approval of the majority.

After 50 years, the secret acts of the members of the Nobel Committee were made public yesterday

This controversy is also reflected in the reflections written especially by four academics as well as two other experts in which each one of them tries to express nuanced arguments about the author’s work. Twenty love poems and a desperate song and the General sing .

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The texts reflect how over time some of the academics who opposed Neruda’s candidacy were showing less severe positions on his political ideology and began to enhance his importance as a Latin American author. One of them was the academic Karl Ragnar Gierow who expressed in his document that “from the point of view of regions that should be highlighted, it would be necessary to take into account England, a country that hitherto had little favor with the Nobel Prize for Literature and Latin America. Not because Spanish had been underrepresented but because it is a continent where a new poetry emerges full of force “

The great production of the Chilean poet also played against him among some members of the jury

The number of nominations in 1971 reached 90. Of these, 26 were presented for the first time. Along with Pablo Neruda, authors such as José María Arguedas, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Henrich Böll, Elias Canetti, Günter Grass, Graham Greene, Eugéne Ionesco and André Malraux were nominated. In its final verdict, the Committee refers to the three finalists and summarizes that “during the meeting of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on September 13, 1971, it decided by majority to recommend Pablo Neruda as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. , in second place to WH Auden and in third place to Patrick White ”. The academics say in their verdict that Auden and White obtained equal number of votes from the members of the Committee to occupy the second place.


Pablo Neruda’s work at the Swedish Academy

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According to the Gierow document, “unlike the nominees last year, none of this year’s finalists present great qualitative advantages over their opponents. You could say that this year’s finalists are all worthy of the award. ” However, referring to Neruda he writes “I join his candidacy for the award but not without a certain reservation.”

That year, writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Günter Grass and Eugéne Ionesco were also nominated.

Gierow complains a bit about the voluminous production of the Chilean poet in recent years and suggests that some of his poems do not have the same quality as the rest of his literary output. “Summarizing its production would be like trying to swim across the Amazon River.” The same academic referred in this paragraph especially to WH Auden, expressing that “the fact that this writer has achieved a very important position in the current European literary consciousness cannot be ignored”.

Pablo Neruda, 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature

the declassified folder containing information on the deliberation of scholars in 1971

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According to the rules, nominations come from linguists, university professors, former laureates, language academies from other countries, faculties of philology and letters, researchers and publishers. An author cannot nominate himself. And although academics have always affirmed that in the election of a candidate the only thing that governs is his literary quality and not the geographical area from which he comes or his political ideology, over the years it has been shown that the Nobel Prize for Literature it is not without a high degree of subjectivity.

An academic affirmed that his poems leave “the same feeling of emptiness as his political verses or speeches”

When investigating the files that release the information of what was said in the Academy about the candidates 50 years after each edition, it is noted that not a few of the awards have been quite unpredictable and that many of them do not stop reflecting the ideology of the moment. The controversy surrounding Neruda confirms this trend.

In his special writing on the candidacy of the Latin American poet, the member of the Academy Eyvind Johnson expressed for example that “this author has not managed to enchant me so much that I recommend him as a candidate.” Johnson referred to both political ideology and poems, stating that “they often leave me with a feeling of emptiness. The same feeling of emptiness that his political verses or speeches leave me ”.

13th June 1966: EXCLUSIVE Chilean poet and activist Pablo Neruda (1904 - 1973) leans on a ship's railing during the 34th annual PEN boat ride around New York City. I wears a ch. (Photo by Sam Falk / New York Times Co./Getty Images)

The poet Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

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For his part, the writer and member of the Swedish Academy Artur Lundqvist expressed regarding Neruda that “the doubts about this writer have had to do, in part with the volume and quality of his work and in part because of his political position. But I want to emphasize another aspect. Neruda speaks for a continent inhabited by many people to whom he has given a voice ”.

We wish to say thanks to the author of this short article for this outstanding content

Revealed the ‘Neruda case’, a Nobel questioned