Chilean poet-diplomat and politician, Pablo Neruda, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was a versatile writer and his works include surrealist poems, historical epics, political manifestos, and love poems. He is considered the national poet of Chile. As a politician, he served a term as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party and held several diplomatic positions.
Legendary Chilean folk singer Víctor Jara was eventually gearing up for a career as a priest and later studied theater, eventually switching to music. He pioneered the nueva canción genre of music in the middle of extreme political turmoil. He was tortured and shot dead during dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign.
A vagabond who roamed around countries such as Chile, Mexico, and France, author Roberto Bolaño eventually settled in Spain, where he spent his days working odd jobs, such as garbage collection and dishwashing, and wrote at night. He is remembered for his Rómulo Gallegos Prize-winning novel The Savage Detectives.
Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and educator Lucila Godoy Alcayaga was better known by her pseudonym, Gabriela Mistral. The suicide of her first love inspired her poem Dolor. Her diplomatic assignments later took her to places such as Madrid and Lisbon. She is remembered for her emotional verses and her feminism.
Chilean diplomat and Nazi sympathizer Miguel Serrano was also an occultist who practiced kundalini yoga and studied Hinduism. He later became one of the most prominent authors of esoteric Hitlerism, claiming that the Aryan race had originated from extra-terrestrial entities. He was also the Chilean ambassador to countries such as Yugoslavia and India.
Chilean author and journalist Luis Sepúlveda started his career leading a student movement under Salvador Allende’s rule. He was tortured and jailed during dictator Augusto Pinochet’s rule, and spent much of his life moving from one country to another. He later penned award-winning novels such as Un viejo que leía novelas de amor.
Argentine-born Chilean-American author Ariel Dorfman has not just served President Salvador Allende as his cultural advisor but has also taught at the University of Chile. During Augusto Pinochet’s rule, he was exiled to the US. His best-known written work is his play Death and the Maiden. He now teaches at Duke University.
Regarded as the intellectual father of South America, Venezuelan-Chilean poet Andrés Bello one taught revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar and also inspired the struggle for Venezuelan independence. He established the University of Chile and also penned masterpieces such as Las Silvas Americanas. As a legislator, he inspired the Chilean Civil Code.
One of the greatest Latin American poets in history, Nicanor Parra was often likened to Pablo Neruda. Apart from writing, he spent most of his life teaching theoretical physics at the University of Chile. He was a pioneer of the antipoetry style, which went against traditional styles of poetry.
Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro pioneered the avant-garde literary movement known as Creacionismo. His ideas on poetry were formed by his collaborations with poets from France and Spain. He also contributed to the movement Ultraísmo in Spain. He is best known for his masterpieces such as Altazor.
Chilean novelist and screenwriter Antonio Skármeta is known for his iconic novel Burning Patience, which inspired the Academy Award-winning movie The Postman. Besides writing, he has also taught literature and has served as the Chilean ambassador to Germany. His literary works earned him the Chilean National Prize for Literature.
Born into an affluent family, Chilean author María Luisa Bombal later moved to Paris, where she attended the Sorbonne. She also participated in a literary movement in Argentina and spent 30 years in the US. Her novels portrayed women dissatisfied with their social roles and romantic failures.
Chilean author José Donoso is remembered for his contribution to the Latin American new novel. He soared to fame with his novels such as Coronation and Hell Has No Limits and often used dark humor, social satire, and surrealism. He also taught at various institutes and lived in exile during Augusto Pinochet’s rule.
Chilean diplomat and author Jorge Edwards created ripples with his autobiography Persona non grata, which reflected his experiences as the Chilean ambassador to Cuba. His works earned him the Cervantes Prize and the Chilean National Prize. He has also been the Chilean ambassador to France.
Cervantes Prize- and Chilean National Prize-winning Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas was initially part of the Surrealist group Mandrágora. A professor, he was forced to go into exile after the 1973 Chilean coup. He later taught in Germany, Mexico, the US, and Spain. He is remembered for works such as La miseria del hombre.
Award-winning author and Chilean Communist Party intellectual Volodia Teitelboim was a close friend of President Salvador Allende and had also briefly been the senator of Santiago. The Chilean National Prize winner is remembered for his memoirs and belonged to the Chilean artistic literary movement Generation of '38.
Widely remembered as the founder of the Chilean social novel, Chilean author Alberto Blest Gana was also a military engineer who taught math in military academies. Known for his masterpieces such as During the Reconquest and The Uprooted, he later also served as the Chilean ambassador to England and France.
Often described as the Jack London of South America, Chilean author Francisco Coloane is remembered for his iconic works such as The Whale's Path and The Heart of the Iceberg. The Chilean National Prize-winning author was also a member of the Communist Party. Many of his works were made into films.
Chilean poet Mariela Griffor mostly writes about her country and experience of being in exile in Sweden and the US. She has penned works such as House and The Psychiatrist, and has also the Wayne State University’s Institute for Creative Writers. She also serves as an honorary consul of Chile in Michigan.
Chilean poet Sergio Badilla Castillo is largely remembered as the pioneer of transrealism in poetry. Highly influenced by Nordic literature, he also translated quite a few literary works of Swedish, Finnish, and French authors. He led a nomadic life and also served as a journalist and a teacher.
Chilean author Eduardo Barrios initially took up several odd jobs, touring across Latin America, and then worked for various publishing houses. In Santiago, he became the public education minister and the director of the National Library. The Chilean National Prize winner is known for works such as Brother Asno.
Scottish-origin Canadian novelist Frederick Niven was born in Chile and later moved to Scotland with his mother. Starting his career as a journalist in Scotland, he later moved to British Columbia in Canada and penned his historical novel trilogy, The Flying Years, Mine Inheritance, and The Transplanted.
Regarded as the first-known poet born in Chile, Pedro de Oña gained-attention and is best-remembered for his verse epic-poem Primera parte de Arauco domado. He wrote it in rhymed couplets, praising military deeds of his patron Hurtado de Mendoza. Other notable works of de Oña includes El Vasauro, Temblor de Lima de 1609 and the sacred epic Ignacio de Cantabria.