Pablo Neruda


1904

July 12: Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto born in Parral, Chile (PN chose a pen name so as not to embarrass his father. He chose this name in honor of the Czech poet Jan Neruda).

1910

PN starts school in a boys' school in Temuco, Chile, where his father had moved and remarried.

1917

PN publishes his first article in the newspaper La Mañana.

1918

Corre-Vuela magazine publishes PN's first poem, "Mis Ojos."

1919

PN publishes thirteen pems in Corre-Vuela. He participates in several poetry competitions.

1920

Officially adopts the nom de plume "Pablo Neruda".

1921

Moves to Santiago to continue with his career as a French teacher in the Pedagogic Institut.

1922

Colaborates with the magazine Claridad, which is organized by the Federation of Students.

1923

Crepusculario published.

1924

Original version of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada is published. ON begins to gain a national and international reputation.

1925

Becomes the editor of Caballo de Bastos magazine and colaborates on several literary publications.

1926

Anillos and El habitante y su esperanza are published. The second edition of Crepusculario is released.

1927

PN named consul in Birmania.

1928

Consul in Ceylon.

1930

Consul in Java. Marries María Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzanz.

1931

Consul in Singapore.

1932

Goes back to Chile. Second edition of Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada is released.

1933

El hondero entusiasta is published

1934

Consul in Barcelona. His daughter Malva Marina is born. He is introduced to Federico Garcia Lorca.

1935

Consul in Madrid (Spanish Civil War begins in 1936).

1939

Consul in Paris

1940

Goes back to Chile and continues with his writing.

1944

Wins the Municipal Award in Poetry (Chile).

1945

Elected Senator of the Republic by the provinces of Tarapaca and Antofagasta.

Joins the Communist Party of Chile.

Wins the National Award in Literature in Chile.

1946

Radical Party presidential candidate Gabriel González Videla asks PN to act as his campaign manager. González Videla was supported by a coalition of left-wing parties and Neruda campaigned tirelessly on his behalf. Once in office, however, González Videla turned against the Communist Party. The breaking point for Senator Neruda was the violent repression of a Communist-led miners' strike in Lota in October of 1947, where striking workers were herded into island military prisons. PN's Neruda's criticism of González Videla culminated in his speech in the Chilean senate on January 6, 1948, which became known as "Yo acuso" ("I accuse"), in the course of which he read out the names of the miners and their families who were imprisoned at the concentration camp.

Awarded the "Orden Aguila Azteca" by the Mexican government.

1948

PN threatened with arrest, goes into hiding and he and his wife are smuggled from house to house, hidden by supporters and admirers for the next thirteen months. While in hiding, Senator Neruda was removed from office and in September the Communist Party was banned altogether under the Ley de Defensa Permanente de la Democracia (Law for the Permanent Defense of Democracy).

1949

Goes into exile.

1950

Canto General is published.

1952

The Chilean Socialist Party nominates Salvador Allende as its candidate for the September presidential elections and wants PN, by now Chile's most prominent left-wing literary figure, to support the campaign. PN returns to Chile.

1952

Moves to Italy.

1953

Organizes the Continental Congress of Culture.

1963

The Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anti-communist organization covertly established and funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, adopts Neruda as one of its primary targets and launches a campaign to undermine his reputation. The campaign becomes more intense when it becomes known that Neruda is a candidate for the 1964 Nobel prize, which is eventually awarded to Jean-Paul Sartre.

1970

Becomes Allende's ambassador to France from (to 1973).

1971

Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1973

23 September: dies in the Santa Maria Clinic, Santiago de Chile.

2015

Chilean government admits that, “it’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party [hired by the Pinochet regime after the coup which brought General Augusto Pinochet to power]” was responsible for Neruda’s death by poisoning.



"Neruda's ideological odyssey took him from apathy to Communism, turning him into the spokesman for the enslaved. From the remoteness of his childhood he heard the echo of the guns of the Great War; his poetry was published in Spain in the 1930s, where he witnessed the Spanish Civil War and befriended Federico García Lorca; he traveled through the Soviet Union, saw the rise and demise of Hitler, visited Cuba after 1959, opposed the U.S. invasion of Vietnam and Cambodia, and was in Chile when Gen. Augusto Pinochet orchestrated a coup, on September 11, 1973, against the elected socialist president Salvador Allende. Throughout, Neruda was an observer and a chronicler of the events of his day. He served as a Chilean senator and diplomat and was a presidential hopeful.

All of which didn't manage to dissipate his naiveté. He was a staunch supporter of Stalin, which prompted him to write some cheap propaganda. He unquestioningly embraced Castro. "Fidel, Fidel, the people are grateful / for word in action and deeds that sing," he wrote. In 1973 he hastily released a book called, embarrassingly, Incitación al Nixonicidio y alabanza de la revolución chilena — A Call for the Destruction of Nixon and Praise for the Chilean Revolution."

Stavans, Ilan. "Pablo Neruda: A Life Consumed by Poetry and Politics." Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 50, no. 43 (July 2, 2004), p. B13.


I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this,
in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.


Il Postino