Pablo Neruda


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).


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


PN publishes his first article in the newspaper La Mañana.


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


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


Officially adopts the nom de plume "Pablo Neruda".


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


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


Crepusculario published.


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


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


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


PN named consul in Birmania.


Consul in Ceylon.


Consul in Java. Marries María Antonieta Hagenaar Vogelzanz.


Consul in Singapore.


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


El hondero entusiasta is published


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


Consul in Madrid.

Children play after a Nationalist bombing of a residential area in Madrid.

Spanish Civil War between the Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning and relatively urban Second Spanish Republic, in an alliance of convenience with the Anarchists, against the Nationalists, a Falangist, Carlist (a legitimate monarchistic political group who wanted the House of Bourbon on the Spanish throne), and largely catholic conservative group led by General Francisco Franco. PN produces poetry about the Nationalist bombings of civilians.


Consul in Paris


Goes back to Chile and continues with his writing.


Wins the Municipal Award in Poetry (Chile).


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.


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.


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).


Goes into exile.


Canto General is published.


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.


Moves to Italy.


Organizes the Continental Congress of Culture.


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.


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


Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Chilean soldiers burn books after their victorious coup d'état in 1973.
The US helped this coup overthrow its president, sending Chile from
a free democratic government into a dictatorship.
It would take until 1990 for democracy to return to Chile.

11 September: US supports a coup d'état against Allende.

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


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