fifty years ago October 22, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (October 22, 1971): Literature Nobel to Chile diplomat

Mr. Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, diplomat and a strong marxist, was to-day [Stockholm, Oct. 21] awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature. Mr. Neruda, 67, who is his country’s Ambassador in France, was cited by the Swedish Academy for “a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”. The 450,000 crowns (Rs. 6,60,000) prize award added one more triumph to the controversial poet-politicians, a one-time Stalin Prize winner and political exile whose convictions carried him to a top post this year after the marxist regime of Mr. Salvador Allende came to power. Mr. Neruda is the second Chilean to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature. The first was his high school teacher and helper, Mr. Gabriela Mistral, awarded in 1945. The Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mr. Karl Ragnar Gierow, who is still in the midst of the controversy surrounding last year’s laureate, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a prepared radio address acknowledged that the prize in Mr. Neruda “has a recipient who is a controversial author”. While stating that Mr. Neruda, as strong a nationalist as communist, became “the poet of violated human dignity”, Mr. Gierow said: “Besides being the subject of debate he is in some people’s eyes debatable, not to say questionable. The debate has been running for almost 40 years, as good a sign as any that his contribution cannot possibly be by-passed, and the differences of opinion have included the artistic content of his work”.

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