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Pablo Neruda: an ‘Exile in Capri’

Not everyone knows that Capri is also renowned as the ‘Island of exiles’. Emperor Tiberius came here to rule the Empire far from the influence of the Senate – which in turn construed the official representation of the Emperor as lascivious, depraved and violent.

The Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius, who stood for the values of the old Republic and the role that the Senate played in the Republican age, were the first to construe such image. The ill-famed cliff where the Emperor’s villa is located, ‘Tiberius Leap’ (‘Salto di Tiberio’) is named after Suetonius’ story about Emperor Tiberius throwing his victims from the precipice.

The revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin also came here at the beginning of the 20th century to plan along with other Russian intellectuals what has come to be known as ‘Russian Revolution’.

Chilean writer and Nobel Prize Pablo Neruda was one of these prominent personalities. Neruda publicly denounced President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla for the violent repression of the miners’ uprising in 1947, many of whom were sent to concentration camps. Videla issued an arrest warrant against Neruda, who was then forced to go into exile.

Postino

He came to Capri in 1952, where he wrote ‘The Captain’s verses – awarding him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. The Italian historian Edwin Cerio hosted him in his Villa in Via Tragara. Years later, in 1985, Neruda’s stay in Capri became the subject of Antonio Skarmeta’s novel ‘Ardiente Paciencia’ (‘Ardent Patience’, later known as ‘El cartero de Neruda’, or ‘Neruda’s Postman’). The novel has inspired Michael Redford’s moving film ‘Il Postino’, ‘The Postman’ – Italian actor Massimo Troisi interpreting the postman, and Philippe Noiret playing the role of Neruda.

 

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