The Revolt of Happiness (La rebelión de la felicidad)
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
La rebelión de la felicidad (The Revolt of Happiness) was written by Chilean playwright Marco Antonio de la Parra to be part of the summer of 2004 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Pablo Neruda's birth. The work depicts the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, on his death bed. He is visited by the spirits of important historical figures who played an integral part in his life; Russian poet Vladimir Maiakovski, Spanish playwright and poet Federico García Lorca, Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, and Chilean president Gabriel González Videla.In a biographical
tour de force, Neruda has exchanges with the above-mentioned figures who bring up other important events in his life. One of these is when Neruda spent time in the same town where there was a girl's secondary school at which poet Gabriela Mistral was headmistress. She encouraged the young Pablo Neruda who was 13 at the time. At 23 Neruda was named an ambassador and traveled to many countries, including Spain, where he befriended the poet/playwright Federico García Lorca. The unjust murder of García Lorca at the hands of fascists is the focus of the exchange between the two. The conversation with Stalin deals with the betrayal felt by Neruda when he learned of the abuses under Stalin's regime. Neruda's admiration for Vladimir Maiakovskii's poetry and his commitment to revolution are highlighted as Maiakovskii is the one who meets Neruda to help him cross over as he dies.
In a particularly powerful exchange, Neruda and Gabriel González Videla debate the circumstances which led to Neruda's exile. Neruda had supported Videla as a leftist candidate for the presidency. After he won, Videla used extreme repression against striking miners in 1947. Neruda's protests eventually forced him to live underground in his own country for two years. Then, he went into exile and did not return until 1952. Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971. He died in 1973, just 10 days after the military coup in which his good friend, Salvador Allende, was murdered at the hands of the army under Pinochet.
Marco Antonio de la Parra has created an excellent tribute with this portrayal of the life and times of Pablo Neruda. He intersperses the dialogue with several poems he composed that express Neruda's favorite themes. It is a beautiful work which is both didactic as well as lyrical