Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Gabriela Mistral; Poet and Humanist

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Gabriela Mistral; Poet and Humanist

Article excerpt

THE life of Gabriela Mistral, who was born on 7 April 1889 in a village in northern Chile and died in New York in 1957, was devoted to an intellectual and spiritual quest. From her early days in Chile's Elqui valley to her European travels on cultural and diplomatic assignments, the story of her career reads almost like a myth. The needy peasant girl becomes the doyenne of Latin-American literature. The humble rural schoolteacher is awarded some of the world's highest honours, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945.

Gabriela Mistral's poetry, from her 1922 collection Desolacion ("Desolation") to Lagar ("The Wine Press") of 1954, was written in harsh, powerful and colloquial language. Like her massive output of prose, it is informed by a visionary, prophetic sense of the destiny of Latin America. But readers in Europe and countries as culturally diverse as Israel, China and japan, also found a meaning in the humanism and poetry of her work.

In many books, theses, poetic and philosophical reflections, it is possible to trace the influence of this Latin-American writer from a country which, within a mere half century, produced three writers of world stature: Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro and Pablo Neruda. …

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