Study Guide

The Poet and the Candidate/President in The House of the Spirits

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The Poet and the Candidate/President

As we've mentioned before, the figure of the Poet can be none other than Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, a Marxist sympathizer who is considered to this day to be Chile's greatest poet (see "What's up with the Epigraph?" and "Allusions" for more on Neruda). In the novel, his death coincides with the death of democracy, and his funeral becomes "the symbolic burial of freedom" (13.81).

Likewise, the unnamed Candidate and eventual President in the novel is undeniably a reference to Isabel Allende's cousin (once removed), Salvador Allende, who was elected the first Socialist president of Chile in 1970. His overthrow, like the death of the Poet, marks the end of the democratic process in the novel.

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