1971 Nobel Prize in Literature
Pablo Neruda
"for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."
  • 21 October 1971 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1971
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1970 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1972 →

The 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Chilean politician and poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."[1] Neruda became the second Chilean Nobel laureate in Literature after Gabriela Mistral in 1945.


Main article: Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda is known for his surrealist poems and historical epics which touches political, human and passionate themes. Among his well known works which are read throughout the world include Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair", 1924), which established him as a prominent poet and an interpreter of love and erotica, and Cien Sonetos de Amor ("100 Sonnets of Love", 1959). A diplomat, his official journey in Asia affected him strongly, which is reflected in two volumes of poems titled Residencia en la tierra ("Residence on Earth", 1933 and 1935). Neruda's Communist sympathies reflect in his work Canto General (1939), an epic poem about the whole South American continent.[2][3][4]

Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924)



In 1971, the Swedish Academy received 137 nominations for 91 writers. Neruda received 25 nominations since 1956 and received two nominations which eventually led to him being awarded the 1971 prize. Among the shortlist were Neruda, W. H. Auden, Patrick White (awarded in 1973), André Malraux and Eugenio Montale (awarded in 1975).[5]

The most number of nominations were for Jorge Luis Borges and Montale, both receiving 6 nominations.[6] André Malraux was the nominee who had been nominated for most years (22 years) up to 1971. 25 of the nominees were nominated first-time, among them Elie Wiesel (awarded the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize), José García Villa, James Baldwin, Arno Schmidt, Georges Schéhadé, William Golding (awarded in 1983) and Richard E. Kim. The oldest nominee was Jacques Maritain (aged 89) while the youngest was Richard E. Kim (aged 39).[6] Peruvian novelist José María Arguedas was nominated posthumously by the professor of Scandinavian languages, Elie Poulenard (1901–1985) from University of Strasbourg. Estonian poet Marie Under was the only female nominee.

The authors André Billy, C. D. Broad, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Daniel de la Vega, Nels F. S. Ferré, Peter Fleming, Claude Gauvreau, Gaito Gazdanov, A. P. Herbert, Philippe Hériat, Raicho Hiratsuka, Ogden Nash, Allan Nevins, Reinhold Niebuhr, Naoya Shiga, Kenneth Slessor, Juhan Smuul, Aleksandr Tvardovsky, Frank Underhill, Charles Vildrac, Waldo Williams, and Philip Wylie died in 1971 without having been nominated for the prize. The Indian novelist Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay and Dutch writer Simon Vestdijk died months before the announcement.

Official list of nominees and their nominators for the prize
No. Nominee Country Genre(s) Nominator(s)
1 Edward Albee (1928–2016)  United States drama Dieter Schaller (1929–2003)
2 Jorge Amado (1912–2001)  Brazil novel, short story Laurent Versini (1932–2021)
3 Jerzy Andrzejewski (1909–1983)  Poland novel, short story Eeva Kilpi (born 1928)
4 Louis Aragon (1897–1982)  France novel, short story, poetry, essays Jean Gaudon (1926–2019)
5 José María Arguedas (1911–1969)
(posthumous nomination)
 Peru novel, short story, poetry, essays Elie Poulenard (1901-1985)
6 Wystan Hugh Auden (1907–1973)  United Kingdom
 United States
poetry, essays, screenplay
7 Riccardo Bacchelli (1891–1985)  Italy novel, drama, essays
8 James Baldwin (1924–1987)  United States novel, short story, essays, poetry, drama Jacob Louis Mey (1926–2023)
9 Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (1898–1971)  India novel, short story, drama, essays, autobiography, songwriting Krishna Kripalani (1907–1992)
10 Mykola Bazhan (1904–1983)  Ukraine poetry, essays Omeljan Pritsak (1919–2006)
11 Saul Bellow (1915–2005)  Canada
 United States
novel, short story, memoir, essays Jara Ribnikar (1912–2007)
12 Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986)  Argentina poetry, essays, translation, short story
13 Jawad Boulos (1900–1982)  Lebanon essays Camille Aboussouan (1919–2013)
14 Heinrich Böll (1917–1985)  Germany novel, short story
  • Karl Theodor Hyldgaard-Jensen (1917–1995)
  • Herbert Morgan Waidson (1916–1988)
  • Gustav Korlén (1915–2014)
15 Michel Butor (1926–2016)  France poetry, novel, essays, translation Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
16 Elias Canetti (1905–1994)  Bulgaria
 United Kingdom
novel, drama, memoir, essays Keith Spalding (1913–2002)
17 Alejo Carpentier (1904–1980)  Cuba novel, short story, essays Henri Peyre (1901–1988)
18 Lord David Cecil (1902–1986)  United Kingdom biography, history, essays Leslie Poles Hartley (1895–1972)
19 Aimé Césaire (1913–2008)  Martinique poetry, drama, essays Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
20 André Chamson (1900–1983)  France novel, essays
21 Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca (1914–2008)  Turkey poetry Yaşar Nabi Nayır (1908–1981)
22 Tsendiin Damdinsüren (1908–1986)  Mongolia poetry, essays, novel, translation Walther Heissig (1913–2005)
23 Salvador de Madariaga (1886–1978)  Spain essays, history, law, novel Kazimir Geza Werner (1900–1985)
24 Henry de Montherlant (1895–1972)  France essays, novel, drama Anders Österling (1884–1981)
25 Paul Demiéville (1894–1979)   Switzerland
essays, translation Martin Gimm (born 1930)
26 Lawrence Durrell (1912–1990)  United Kingdom novel, short story, poetry, drama, essays Haydn Trevor Mason (1929–2018)
27 Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–1990)   Switzerland drama, novel, short story, essays
  • Werner Betz (1912–1980)
  • Karl Siegfried Guthke (born 1933)
28 Rabbe Enckell (1903–1974)  Finland short story, poetry
29 Salvador Espriu (1913–1985)  Spain drama, novel, poetry
  • Manuel Durán (1925–2020)
  • Antoni Comas (1931–1981)
30 Romain Gary (1914–1980)  Lithuania
novel, essays, literary criticism, screenplay Walther Hinz (1906–1992)
31 Maurice Genevoix (1890–1980)  France novel, essays Yves Gandon (1899–1975)
32 William Golding (1911–1993)  United Kingdom novel, poetry, drama, essays
  • Inna Koskenniemi (1923–1995)
  • Meta Mayne Reid (1905–1991)
33 Günter Grass (1927–2015)  Germany novel, drama, poetry, essays
  • Henry Caraway Hatfield (1912–1995)
  • Erich Ruprecht (1906–1997)
  • Lauri Seppänen (1924–2009)
  • Manfred Windfuhr (born 1930)
34 Graham Greene (1904–1991)  United Kingdom novel, short story, autobiography, essays Mary Renault (1905–1983)
35 Jorge Guillén (1893–1984)  Spain poetry, literary criticism
  • Manuel Durán (1925–2020)
  • Andri Peer (1921–1985)
36 Paavo Haavikko (1931–2008)  Finland poetry, drama, essays Eeva Kilpi (born 1928)
37 William Heinesen (1900–1991)  Faroe Islands poetry, short story, novel
  • Sven Møller Kristensen (1909–1991)
  • Dag Strömbäck (1900–1978)
  • Arthur Arnholtz (1901–1973)
38 Vladimír Holan (1905–1980)  Czechoslovakia poetry, essays Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976)
39 Eugène Ionesco (1909–1994)  Romania
drama, essays Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
40 Roman Jakobson (1896–1982)  Russia
 United States
essays Jean Dubois (1920–2015)
41 Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976)  Sweden novel, short story Pär Lagerkvist (1891–1974)
42 Younghill Kang (1898–1972)  North Korea
 United States
novel, memoir, drama Robert Payne (1911–1983)
43 Erich Kästner (1899–1974)  Germany poetry, screenplay, autobiography Kazimir Geza Werner (1900–1985)
44 Richard Eun Kook Kim (1932–2009)  North Korea
 United States
novel, short story Baek Cheol (1908-1985)
45 Arthur Koestler (1905–1983)  Hungary
 United Kingdom
novel, autobiography, essays Georges Matoré (1908–1998)
46 Miroslav Krleža (1893–1981)  Croatia
poetry, drama, short story, novel, essays Gunnar Jacobsson (1918–2001)
47 Karl Krolow (1915–1999)  Germany poetry, essays, translation Emil Ernst Ploss (1925–1972)
48 Philip Larkin (1922–1985)  United Kingdom poetry, novel, essays Jørgen Læssøe (1924–1993)
49 Siegfried Lenz (1926–2014)  Germany novel, short story, essays, drama Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
50 Väinö Linna (1920–1992)  Finland novel
51 Compton Mackenzie (1883–1972)  United Kingdom novel, short story, drama, poetry, history, biography, essays, literary criticism,
Magne Oftedal (1921–1985)
52 Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982)  United States poetry, essays, drama, law William Scovil Anderson (1927–2022)
53 Hugh MacLennan (1907–1990)  Canada novel, essays Lawrence Lande (1906–1998)
54 André Malraux (1901–1976)  France novel, essays, literary criticism
  • Ernest Lee Tuveson (1915–1996)
  • Kauko Aatos Ojala (1919–1987)
  • Lloyd James Austin (1915–1994)
  • Henri Peyre (1901–1988)
  • John Henry Raleigh (1920–2001)
55 Jacques Maritain (1882–1973)  France philosophy Charles Dédéyan (1910–2003)
56 Harry Martinson (1904–1978)  Sweden poetry, novel, drama, essays Arthur Arnholtz (1901–1973)
57 Miquel Melendres i Rué (1905–1974)  Spain essays, theology, poetry, memoir Antoni Griera (1887–1973)
58 Arthur Miller (1915–2005)  United States drama, screenplay, essays
  • Petronella O'Flanagan (?)
  • Andri Peer (1921–1985)
59 Vilhelm Moberg (1898–1973)  Sweden novel, drama, history Anders Österling (1884–1981)
60 Eugenio Montale (1896–1981)  Italy poetry, translation
  • Carlo Bo (1911–2001)
  • Marco Scovazzi (1923–1971)
  • Uberto Limentani (1913–1989)
  • Paul Renucci (1915–1976)
  • Lanfranco Caretti (1915–1995)
  • Henri Peyre (1901–1988)
61 Alberto Moravia (1907–1990)  Italy novel, literary criticism, essays, drama
  • Aimo Sakari (1911–2001)
  • Jacques Robichez (1914–1999)
62 Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)  Russia
 United States
novel, short story, poetry, drama, translation, literary criticism, memoir
63 Mikhail Naimy (1889–1988)  Lebanon poetry, drama, short story, novel, autobiography, literary criticism
  • I. Bassalo (?)
  • Toufic Fahd (1923–2009)
64 Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)  Chile poetry
65 Fritiof Nilsson Piraten (1895–1972)  Sweden short story, novel, essays, law Bertil Ejder (1916–2005)
66 Ezra Pound (1885–1972)  United States poetry, essays Hans Galinsky (1909–1991)
67 Evaristo Ribera Chevremont (1890–1976)  Puerto Rico poetry Ernesto Juan Fonfrías (1909–1990)
68 Yannis Ritsos (1909–1990)  Greece poetry, songwriting
69 Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922–2008)  France novel, short story, essays, screenplays Henry Olsson (1896–1985)
70 Tadeusz Rózewicz (1921–2014)  Poland poetry, drama, translation Gunnar Jacobsson (1918–2001)
71 Hans Ruin (1891–1980)  Finland
philosophy Arthur Arnholtz (1901–1973)
72 Georges Schéhadé (1905–1989)  Lebanon poetry, drama, novel Camille Aboussouan (1919–2013)
73 Arno Schmidt (1914–1979)  Germany novel, short story, biography, essays Lars Gyllensten (1921–2006)
74 Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001)  Senegal poetry, essays Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
75 Robert Shih [Shi Jieyun] (1926–1983)  China essays Étienne Lamotte (1903–1983)
76 Claude Simon (1913–2005)  France novel, essays Henry Olsson (1896–1985)
77 Charles Percy Snow (1905–1980)  United Kingdom novel, essays Sylvère Monod (1921–2006)
78 Zaharia Stancu (1902–1974)  Romania poetry, novel, philosophy, essays Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
79 Marie Under (1883–1980)  Estonia poetry Algirdas Landsbergis (1924–2004)
80 Simon Vestdijk (1898–1971)  Netherlands novel, poetry, essays, translation Karl Ragnar Gierow (1904–1982)
81 José García Villa (1908–1997)  Philippines
 United States
poetry, essays
82 Gerard Walschap (1898–1989)  Belgium novel, drama, essays
  • Richard Declerck (1899–1986)
  • William Pée (1903–1986)
  • Marcel Coole (1913–2000)
83 Mika Waltari (1908–1979)  Finland short story, novel, poetry, drama, essays, screenplay Inna Koskenniemi (1923–1995)
84 Sándor Weöres (1913–1989)  Hungary poetry, translation Áron Kibédi Varga (1930–2018)
85 Patrick White (1912–1990)  Australia novel, short story, drama, poetry, autobiography
86 Elie Wiesel (1928–2016)  Romania
 United States
memoir, essays, novel, drama Gerd Høst-Heyerdahl (1915–2007)
87 Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)  United States drama, novel, short story
88 Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)  United States drama, novel, screenplay, short story, poetry Kazimir Geza Werner (1900–1985)
89 Henry Williamson (1895–1977)  United Kingdom novel, short story Petronella O'Flanagan (?)
90 Angus Wilson (1913–1991)  United Kingdom novel, short story, essays Gerhard Nickel (1928–2015)
91 Carl Zuckmayer (1896–1977)  Germany drama, screenplay

Prize Decision

Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda receiving his medal and diploma (December 10, 1971).

The Academy's archives later revealed in 2022 that Pablo Neruda was almost denied the Nobel Prize because of his "communist tendencies" and odes to Stalin.[5] While Anders Österling of the Nobel committee praised Neruda's "poetic natural power and dynamic vitality", he questioned whether the increasingly dominant communist tendency in his poetry is compatible with the purpose of the Nobel prize. In the archives, Österling wrote that "a writer's way of thinking – whether Marxist, syndicalist, anarchist or something else – belongs to his free right. However, Neruda is fully politically involved, including through his hymns to Stalin and other purely propagandistic achievements. On that basis, I have reservations about his candidacy, without, however, wanting to firmly reject it in advance..."[5] Österling had previously spoken out against the candidacy both of Ezra Pound and Samuel Beckett, but was eventually persuaded with Neruda's and Beckett's merits later awarded them the prize, but not Pound.[5]


Bo Strömstedt, cultural editor of the newspaper Expressen, suggested ironically that Neruda's appointment to the Paris embassy might have been decisive factor for him being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing it as "Pension for Diplomats".[7] In an interview, he pointed out that three laureates in the last decade had been diplomats: Saint-John Perse of France, Giorgos Seferis of Greece and Miguel Ángel Asturias of Guatemala. "I call it a Nobel old‐age pension for diplomats," he said. "I think Pablo Neruda is a great poet and a greater artist than Patrick White but like choices that come too late, it's a bit dull. I'm for choosing younger persons who are in the midst of their work."[7]

Nobel lecture

Pablo Neruda delivered a Nobel lecture entitled "Towards the Splendid City" on 13 December 1971, in which he raises some great points about the craft of writing poetry and the poet's relation to society. Neruda expressed: "I believe that poetry is an action, ephemeral or solemn, in which there enters as equal partners solitude and solidarity, emotion and action, the nearness to oneself, the nearness to mankind and to the secret manifestations of nature."[8]


  1. ^ "Nobel Prize in Literature 1971". nobelprize.org.
  2. ^ Pablo Neruda – Facts nobelprize.org
  3. ^ Pablo Neruda britannica.com
  4. ^ Pablo Neruda poetryfoundation.org
  5. ^ a b c d Alison Flood (5 January 2022). "Nobel winner Pablo Neruda was almost denied prize because of odes to Stalin". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  6. ^ a b Nomination archive – 1971
  7. ^ a b John L. Hess (October 22, 1971). "Neruda, Chilean Poet‐Politician, Wins Nobel Prize in Literature". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  8. ^ Nobel lecture nobelprize.org