February 24, 2015

Neruda will be returned to his grave


Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda

Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda passed away forty-two years ago, but—as MobyLives has discussed in great detail previously—suspicions about the cause of his death keep rising. This weekend Judge Mario Carroza, who has presided over the exhumation, ordered that Neruda’s body be returned to his grave.

So, how’s the murder case coming along? Was the poet poisoned? Did he die of prostate cancer, as his death certificate says?

The tests have been running in four different countries, but we have no answers. Scientists in Santiago, North Carolina and Murcia, Spain concluded that there were no traces of poison after a fresh round of tests in 2013.

But in January 2015, according to Adam Feinstein at The Guardian, they began hunting for signs of “inorganic or heavy metals” that may have caused Neruda’s death indirectly. (We covered this investigation, and why anyone is still looking for signs of Neruda’s murder, here.)

Carroza has ordered that Neruda’s body be returned to Isla Negra in April. One of Neruda’s nephews, Rodolpho Reyes, isn’t convinced. If the results are inconclusive, how will the Argentinian government proceed? Would they dig up Neruda’s remains again?

Another nephew had the opposite reaction: he was pleased Neruda would be buried again. Bernardo Reyes said in a statement, “The time of the loudmouths, mythomaniacs and upstarts is finally coming to an end. Those who crudely made use of a supposed witness to an imaginary murder will have to face the consequences.”

In more pleasant news, twenty of Neruda’s unpublished poems are coming out in a will be published by Seix Barrel this year. The title is, roughly, Your Feet Play in the Shade and Other Unpublished Poems.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.