“La Risa es el Lenguaje del Alma” (“Laughter is the Language of the Soul”)
“Laughter is the language of the soul.”
― Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was a Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet who was once called “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”
Always left-leaning, Neruda joined the Communist Party of Chile in 1945, but by 1948 the Communist Party was under siege, and Neruda fled the country with his family. In 1952, the Chilean government withdrew its order to seize leftist writers and political figures, and Neruda returned to Chile once again.
Neruda died just two years after receiving his Nobel Prize on September 23, 1973, in Santiago, Chile. Though his death was officially attributed to prostate cancer, there have been allegations that the poet was poisoned, as he died right after the rise of dictator Augosto Pinochet to power. (Neruda was a supporter of Pinochet’s deposed predecessor, Salvador Allende.)
In 2011, Neruda’s chauffeur alleged that the writer said he’d been given an injection at a clinic by a physician that worsened his health. Chilean judge Mario Carroza later authorized an official investigation into cause of death. Neruda’s body was exhumed in 2013 and examined, but a forensics team found no initial evidence of foul play.
However, in January 2015, the Chilean government reopened the investigation with new forensic testing. Although Judge Carroza ordered Neruda’s body to be returned to his gravesite, the discovery of unusual bacteria in the writer’s bones indicated that the matter had yet to be fully resolved.
In 2016, the life of the renowned poet inspired the acclaimed Chilean film Neruda, which is directed by Pablo Larraín and follows a police inspector (played by Gael García Bernal) on the hunt for Neruda as he hides to escape arrest for his Communist views.