Pablo Neruda Saved Thousands of War Refugees. Isabel Allende Imagines Two of Them. – The New York Times

In January of 1939, after three and a half years of devastating civil war, Francisco Franco defeated Spain’s Republican army at Barcelona, clinching a dictatorship that would last for nearly a half-century and displacing hundreds of thousands of soldiers, activists and Republican supporters. Many fled across the Pyrenees into France thinking they’d escaped the worst, only to find themselves behind barbed wire in concentration camps like Argèles-sur-Mer, “half-dead from cold and hunger.”

Though the larger world seemed as blind to Spain’s displaced population as they’d been to the war itself, the Chilean diplomat and poet Pablo Neruda lobbied to save over 2,000 of the refugees, as many as could fit on a nine-ton cargo ship called the Winnipeg, bound for political asylum. Neruda’s far-reaching humanist act calls to mind Oskar Schindler, and is the little-known kernel of history at the heart of Isabel Allende’s 17th novel, “A Long Petal of the Sea.”
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2020/01/20/books/review/a-long-petal-of-the-sea-isabel-allende.html