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Gabriela Mistral

Mistral, Gabriela (gäbrēāˈlä mēsträlˈ) [key], 1889–1957, Chilean poet whose original name was Lucila Godoy Alcayaga. She was a teacher in and director of rural schools in Chile before she attained wider acclaim as an educator. Mistral was noted for her revision of the Mexican school system under José Vasconcelos. Subsequently, she served as Chilean consul in various European and Latin American cities and represented her country at the League of Nations and the United Nations. The mystery of childbearing, the sorrow of a tragic love, and a burning desire for justice are recurrent themes of her fluent and lyric verse. The early Sonetos de la muerte [ sonnets of death ] (1915) is considered one of her finest achievements. Desolación (1922), Tala (1938), and Lagar (1954) are three of her major volumes. Selected Poems, translated by Langston Hughes, was published in 1957. In 1945, Mistral received the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Latin American to be so honored.

See studies by M. C. Preston (1964) and M. C. Taylor (1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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