Find out more about the Spanish and Latin American literature Nobel Prize Winners - Pablo Neruda, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriela Mistral, Camilo Jose Cela
Spanish and Latin American
Literature Nobel Prize Winners
1904 Jose Echegaray (Spain)
Echegaray was a truly multitalented man: engineer, playwright, politician and mathematician. In mathematics, he introduced Chasles geometry, the Galois Theory and elliptic functions into Spain. As a politician, Echegaray worked in the Ministry of Finance and Development. However, h received the Nobel Prize for his work as a playwright, having written 67 plays such as The Great Galeotti (1881). The choice to award the Literature Nobel Prize to Jose Echegaray was widely criticized by other Spanish writers such as Leopoldo Alas (Clarin) and Emilia Pardo Bazan.
1922 Jacinto Benavente (Spain)
Jacinto Benavente was one of the most important playwrights of the early twentieth century. He also worked as a director, writer and producer in the Spanish film industry. His sharp pen told the stories of all types of human tragedies, comedies, dramas and skits. Jacinto Benavente's theatrical works were realistic, natural and plausible, albeit with certain ironic touches that livened up each play. This Spanish playwright was well appreciated in Spain during the first half of the 20th century, overshadowing the fame of Jose Echegaray.
1945 Gabriela Mistral (Chile)
Lucila de Maria del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, known simply as Gabriela Mistral, was a poet, diplomat and educator. She also played an important role as a feminist activist in Chile. She established a very important diplomatic career in both European and American countries. The news that she had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature came when the Chilean poet was serving as a consul in the city of Petropolis, Brazil. In 1945, Gabriela Mistral became the first Latin American to ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1956 Juan Ramon Jimenez (Spain)
Juan Ramon Jimenez was a great Spanish poet, author of the magnificent lyrical narrative called Platero and I. He was an influential author to the avant-garde youth who revered Juan Ramon as their master. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, the author found himself in exile, first in the United States and later in Puerto Rico. It was here that he became a university professor and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Three days after learning that he had won the coveted award, Jose Ramon's wife passed away, a loss he would never fully recover from. The Spanish poet would die two years later, in the same clinic as his wife, while suffering from a deep depression.
1967 Miguel Angel Asturias (Guatemala)
Miguel Angel Asturias is an important writer who emerged during the Latin American Literary Boom alongside figures like Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Among his many important novels, some of the highlights are Mr. President (1946) about a Latin American dictator and Men of Maize(1949), considered to be a masterpiece of the Magic Realism genre that achieves a perfect balance between language and narration. Miguel Angel Asturias, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, died in Madrid at the age of 74 and was buried in the famous Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise.
1971 Pablo Neruda (Chile)
Pablo Neruda was a Chilean author who wrote romantic poetry and won the Literature Nobel Prize in 1971.. He dedicated himself to classical writing and avoided the avant-garde movements of the time. Neruda's political activism in the Chilean Communist Party led him to exile. When he returned to Chile, he was appointed as the ambassador to France by Salvador Allende in 1970. In 1973, Pablo Neruda resigned from the position due to health problems. That same year, the Chilean author died in the Santa Maria Clinic of Santiago, when the Allende government had already been overthrown by the coup of Augusto Pinochet. In fact, some theories suggest that Neruda had been assassinated via lethal injection.
1977 Vicente Aleixandre (Spain)
Vicente Aleixandre was a poet of the famous Generation of '27, one of the most famous Spanish literary groups of the 20th Century with other important authors such as Federico Garcia Lorca and Miguel Hernandez. Aleixandre was a member of the Spanish Royal Academy since 1950 and held the "O" chair. Throughout his life, the Spanish poet's work would adopt different styles, from surrealistic poetry to anthropocentric and social poetry. One notable example of his surrealistic work was Destruction or Love (1935).
1982 Gabriel García Marquez (Colombia)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was without doubt the most important Latin American author of the 20th century due to his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. He was born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1972 and was a writer, novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist whose work exemplified the genre of Magical Realism. One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered a classic in Latin American literature and is probably the second most translated Hispanic work after Cervante's Don Quixote.
1989 Camilo Jose Cela (Spain)
Camilio Jose Cela was one of the most prolific Spanish writers of the second half of the 20th century. His career took off with the jarring novel The Family of Pascual Duarte, a terrifying portrait of Spain after the Spanish Civil War. Cela's work as a writer includes long novels, short stories, essays, travel books, literary magazine pieces and more. His Majesty Juan Carlos I bestowed Camilio Cela with the title of Marquis of Iria Flavia (his birthplace). In addition to having won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1989, Cela also received the Cervante's Prize in 1995 and the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature in 1987. In addition to all this, the Spanish writer was a member of the Royal Spanish Academy.
1990 Octavio Paz (Mexico)
Octavio Paz was a writer, essayist, diplomat and, most importantly, Mexican poet. He first came into contact with literature as a young boy through his grandfather. By adolescence, the future writer had discovered European poetry, especially from Spain. These poets, such as Juan Ramon Jimenez (mentioned above), would influence Octavio Paz throughout his career. During the Spanish Civil War, Paz visited Spain with an Antifascist Mexican delegation to show their support for the Republican cause. As time passed, the writer lost hope in the idea of a Marxist utopia and eventually denounced Stalin's Soviet concentration camps. Later, Octavio Paz was the Mexican Ambassador to India but resigned from his position in 1968 after the Tlateloco massacre. The Mexican author then moved to the United States where he became a university professor. Octavio Paz died in Mexico City in 1998. Paz is known for producing poetry that is difficult to classify but, as he himself admitted, his work was greatly influenced by Surrealism.
2010 Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
Mario Vargas Llosa, a Spanish language writer and latest Spanish speaking winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is also one of the most prolific novelists of all time. His very experimental prose envelops readers with the contradictions of the individual in the fight for survival. Llosa's novels are carefully structured, which the titles of his works imply: Conversation in the Cathedral, The Green House, The Time of the Hero; structures that encase the individual. They are also works that investigate history, from his own past in Lima (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter) to more general history (The Feast of the Goat or The Dream of the Celt), but they are always centered around the individual. Mario Vargas Llosa is also a member of the Royal Spanish Academy.