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This report is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

Pablo Neruda is in the House Gregory O'Brien
Today is the day. 8 April 2013. After some years of prevarication, the bones of Pablo Neruda will, this morning, be plucked from the gravesite in front of his house at Isla Negra. The scene will involve, in all likelihood, a tarpaulin, some scientific types wearing rubber gloves, men wielding shovels and - because this has lately been classified as a murder investigation - the police. The bones of Matilde, his third wife, will remain undisturbed, a little to the left of where the poet has lain for the past two decades.

Neruda's driver and personal assistant at the time of his death, Manuel Araya - now aged 66 and living in San Antonio, just down the coast from Isla Negra - has maintained, for the past 40 years, that Neruda was assassinated by the CIA-backed Pinochet regime, only a few days after it seized power on 11 September 1973. The accepted version of events, up until recently, has been that Neruda died from natural causes, hastened perhaps by the emotional trauma he experienced at the ruthless despatch of Salvador Allende's democratically elected government. At the time of the coup, Neruda had suspected prostate cancer, but most sources agree that he should have lived months, if not years longer - a period which, in the Neruda-esque scheme of things, would have amounted to at least a few hundred more poems.

Last month, I stood at Isla Negra, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the black rock-formation after which ...


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