Born with the name of Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, Gabriela Mistral (7 April 1889 – 10 January 1957) was a Chilean poetress, humanist, diplomat, and educator. She was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945.
Struggling with poverty, Mistral worried about the education in her country, so she worked hard to be accepted as a teacher. Later she became an eminence, not only in her country but also in Mexico. Because of this, she received several doctorates honoris causa.
Having lived through two world wars greatly impacted both her poetry and her humanist endeavors, as she held the view that War Is Hell.
After retiring from educative labor, she became a representative of Chile in other countries, where she worked until her death.
As of The New '10s, and thanks to the publishing of her extensive epistolary with Doris Dana, it was revealed that Mistral was a lesbian — Dana being her latest lover. In life, she celebrated Sapphic Circle meetings in her Madrid house. There, she interacted with other lesbian poetresses such as Victorina Durán, Rosa Chacel, Elena Fortún, and Matilde Ras.
Her poetic works mostly concern death, grief, sorrow, and anguish. However, uplifting poems are not rare. All in all, she marked the beginning of Modernism in Chile and, therefore, Latin America. You can read a compilation of her works here.
Mistral's literary works:
- Sonnets of Death (1914), which won her the Chilean Juegos Florales prize. Sonetos de la Muerte in Spanish.
- Desolation (1922): Desolación in Spanish.
- Readings for Women (1923): Lecturas para Mujeres in Spanish.
- Ternura: canciones de niños (1924)
- Tala (1938): Commonly translated as Harvesting, however, the title alludes to the felling of trees rather than the picking of crops.
- Lagar (1954): Untranslatable title.
- Poem of Chile (1967): Poema de Chile in Spanish.
- Lagar II (1992): Published posthumously.
Tropes found across her works:
- Small Reference Pools: Other than Gabriel García Márquez and Pablo Neruda, she's the only ever Latin American writer in non-Spanish-speaking pop culture.