Numerous critics have praised Neruda as the greatest poet writing in the Spanish language during his lifetime. Born Ricardo Eliezer Neftali Reyes y Basoalto, Neruda grew up in Temuco in the backwoods of southern Chile. Among his early teachers was the poet Gabriela Mistral, who would be a Nobel laureate years before Neruda. While in Santiago attending college, Neruda completed one of his most critically acclaimed and original works, 'Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair'. Neruda's professional career as Chilean consul, first in the Far East and then in Spain, involved him in the international republican and Communist movements, which led to a marked and enduring politicization of his poetics. After the election of the Socialist President of Chile, Salvador Allende, Neruda was dispatched as ambassador to France, and it was during this posting that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.