Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) - a poet who lived most his life in Lisbon, Portugal, and who died in obscurity there - has in recent years gained international recognition as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Now Richard Zenith has collected in a single volume all the major poetry of one of the most extraordinary poetic talents the century has produced (Microsoft Network's Reading Forum). Fernando Pessoa was as much a creator of personas as he was of poetry, prose, and criticism. He wrote under numerous heteronyms, literary alter egos with fully fleshed identities and writing styles, who supported and criticized each other's work in the margins of his drafts and in the literary journals of the time. From spare minimalism to a revolutionary exuberance that recalls Leaves of Grass, Pessoa's oeuvre was radically new and anticipated contemporary literary concerns to an unnerving degree. The first comprehensive edition of Pessoa's poetry in the English language, Fernando Pessoa & Co. is a work of extraordinary depth and poetic precision. Zenith's selection of Pessoa is a beautiful one-volume course in the soul of the twentieth century. — Booklist
A selection of prose by “Portugal’s greatest writer of the twentieth century . . . as addictive, and endearing, as Borges and Calvino” (The Washington Post Book World). Building on the wonderful Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems, which was acclaimed by Booklist as “a beautiful one-volume course in the soul of the twentieth century,” translator Richard Zenith has now edited and translated selections from Pessoa’s prose, offering a second volume of this forgotten master’s flights of imagination and melancholy wit. Though known primarily as a poet, Pessoa wrote prose in several languages and every genre—the novel, short stories, letters, and essays. The pieces collected here span intellectual inquiry, Platonic dialogue, and literary rivalries between Pessoa’s many alter egos—a diverse cast of literary voices he called ‘heteronyms’—who launch movements and write manifestos. There are appreciations of Shakespeare, Dickens, Wilde, and Joyce; critical essays in which one heteronym derides the work of another; experiments with automatic writing; and works that toy with the occult. Also included is a generous selection from Pessoa’s masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, freshly translated by Richard Zenith from newly discovered materials. Fernando Pessoa was one of the greatest exponents of modernism. The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa is an important contribution to literature that brings back to life a forgotten but crucial part of the canon.
Like Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce, Richard Zenith’s Pessoa immortalizes the life of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers. Nearly a century after his wrenching death, the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) remains one of our most enigmatic writers. Believing he could do “more in dreams than Napoleon,” yet haunted by the specter of hereditary madness, Pessoa invented dozens of alter egos, or “heteronyms,” under whose names he wrote in Portuguese, English, and French. Unsurprisingly, this “most multifarious of writers” (Guardian) has long eluded a definitive biographer—but in renowned translator and Pessoa scholar Richard Zenith, he has met his match. Relatively unknown in his lifetime, Pessoa was all but destined for literary oblivion when the arc of his afterlife bent, suddenly and improbably, toward greatness, with the discovery of some 25,000 unpublished papers left in a large, wooden trunk. Drawing on this vast archive of sources as well as on unpublished family letters, and skillfully setting the poet’s life against the nationalist currents of twentieth-century European history, Zenith at last reveals the true depths of Pessoa’s teeming imagination and literary genius. Much as Nobel laureate José Saramago brought a single heteronym to life in The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Zenith traces the backstories of virtually all of Pessoa’s imagined personalities, demonstrating how they were projections, spin-offs, or metamorphoses of Pessoa himself. A solitary man who had only one, ultimately platonic love affair, Pessoa used his and his heteronyms’ writings to explore questions of sexuality, to obsessively search after spiritual truth, and to try to chart a way forward for a benighted and politically agitated Portugal. Although he preferred the world of his mind, Pessoa was nonetheless a man of the places he inhabited, including not only Lisbon but also turn-of-the-century Durban, South Africa, where he spent nine years as a child. Zenith re-creates the drama of Pessoa’s adolescence—when the first heteronyms emerged—and his bumbling attempts to survive as a translator and publisher. Zenith introduces us, too, to Pessoa’s bohemian circle of friends, and to Ophelia Quieroz, with whom he exchanged numerous love letters. Pessoa reveals in equal force the poet’s unwavering commitment to defending homosexual writers whose books had been banned, as well as his courageous opposition to Salazar, the Portuguese dictator, toward the end of his life. In stunning, magisterial prose, Zenith contextualizes Pessoa’s posthumous literary achievements—especially his most renowned work, The Book of Disquiet. A modern literary masterpiece, Pessoa simultaneously immortalizes the life of a literary maestro and confirms the enduring power of Pessoa’s work to speak prophetically to the disconnectedness of our modern world.
With its astounding hardcover reviews Richard Zenith's new complete translation of THE BOOK OF DISQUIET has now taken on a similar iconic status to ULYSSES, THE TRIAL or IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME as one of the greatest but also strangest modernist texts. An assembly of sometimes linked fragments, it is a mesmerising, haunting 'novel' without parallel in any other culture.
'A completely superb and magisterial life of Fernando Pessoa. Finally, this extraordinary poet gets the great biography he deserves. Unsurpassable' William Boyd For many thousands of readers Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet is almost a way of life. Ironic, haunting and melancholy, this completely unclassifiable work is the masterpiece of one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic writers. Richard Zenith's Pessoa at last allows us to understand this extraordinary figure. Some eighty-five years after his premature death in Lisbon, where he left over 25,000 manuscript sheets in a wooden trunk, Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) can now be celebrated as one of the great modern poets. Setting the story of his life against the nationalistic currents of European history, Zenith charts the heights of Pessoa's explosive imagination and literary genius. Much of Pessoa's charm and strangeness came from his writing under a variety of names that he used not only to conceal his identity but also to write in wildly varied styles with different imagined personalities. Zenith traces the back stories of virtually all of these invented others, called 'heteronyms', demonstrating how they were projections, spin-offs or metamorphoses of Pessoa himself. Zenith's monumental work confirms the power of Pessoa's words to speak prophetically to the disconnectedness of modern life. It is also a wonderful book about Lisbon, the city which Pessoa reinvented and through which his different selves wandered. 'Finally! A brilliant biography that places Pessoa where he should have always belonged, with true giants' André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name
Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese poet and prose writer, has become an icon not only in his native Portugal -- where his likeness once adorned a monetary note -- but also in France, where he is revered in much the same way that Whitman is here. Never before has such a comprehensive and beautifully translated edition of his poetry been available in English. Richard Zenith has taken three of Pessoa's major "heteronyms" (the poet's term for his numerous literary alter egos), as well as the poetry Pessoa wrote "as himself", and created a volume of extraordinary emotional depth and poetic precision. With an introduction that throws light on the work and on the elusive man himself, Fernando Pessoa and Co. is an important addition to world literature.
Fernando Pessoa is Portugal's most important contemporary poet. He wrote under several identities, which he called heteronyms: Albet Caeiro, Alvaro de Campos, Ricardo Reis, and Bernardo Soares. He wrote fine poetry under his own name as well, and each of his "voices" is completely different in subject, temperament, and style. This volume brings back into print the comprehensive collection of his work published by Ecco Press in 1986.
An introduction to the world of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), a fascinating and complex figure in European literary modernism and avant-garde. Adverse Genres in Fernando Pessoa describes how the enigmatic author combined traditional forms and modernist content. By separating form and content, or author and text, or self and non-self, Pessoa gives new life and character to historical genres for a modernist age.