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After the incident, Neruda did not keep quiet. When he was about to return to his home country, in August 1943, he gave an interview to the magazine Hoy in which he said that the best thing Mexico had was its agronomists and that Mexican poetry lacked a civic ethic. He also said that the Mexican novel was represented by great writers (Juan de la Cabada, Emilio Abreu Gomez, Jose Revueltas, and Andres Henestrosa) who had expressed a new form of classicism--and that by contrast, the essay in
had been perverted by an anemic generation. Mexico
That same month, Paz responded with a farewell to Neruda in a piece called "Despedida a un consul," published in the magazine Letras de Mexico. The Mexican writer said that what separated them was not political conviction but vanity, the vanity that caused Neruda to accept, every six months, banquets and tributes from the same people he accused of moral shortcomings.
According to Paz translator Jason Wilson, Paz thought pamphleteering poetry was useless. Poetry, he believed, was incapable of producing political change; a text of Lenin's was better than a bad poem by Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovski or Neruda. Of course, Paz wrote political poetry in certain very specific situations, such as in response to the October 2, 1968, killings on
's Plaza de Tlatelolco. Mexico City
Paz and Neruda didn't speak to each other for 25 years. Some writers tried to intercede to bring about reconciliation; according to Carlos Fuentes, Neruda called him to set up a meeting. However, the Chilean poet showed such little enthusiasm to make it happen that Fuentes preferred not to run the risk.
In 1963, it was widely rumored that Neruda was going to win the Nobel Prize in literature. That year Artur Lundkvist, a member of the
Swedish Academy, writer, and translator of Neruda into Swedish, published an article in a literary magazine in which he sang Neruda's praises. Lundkvist (who is said to have been one of the key people responsible for Paz's being awarded the coveted prize years later, in 1990) strongly pressured the Swedish Academy to give the prize to Neruda at that time. However, there was a concerted effort to make sure he didn't get it. In fact, it was hard to please anybody. On the one hand, Neruda had been strongly attacked by Cuban intellectuals, supporters of Fidel Castro, for being an imperialist; groups in the Stockholm , on the other hand, attacked him for being a communist. United States
The main source of the anti-Neruda attacks was the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anti-communist group that was active in 35 countries, including many in
Latin America. A vigorous campaign was undertaken to discredit Neruda, with the Congress for Cultural Freedom claiming that Neruda the poet could not be separated from Neruda the political propagandist. Around that time, certain individuals were sent a report written in English and French in which Neruda was accused of being an accomplice, along with the painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, In the first, failed attempt to assassinate Leon Trotsky in . Neruda had previously denied the accusation published in that report. Mexico
(To be continued).