In 1925, Fernando Pessoa wrote a guidebook to Lisbon for English-speaking visitors, and wrote it in English. The typescript was only discovered amongst his papers long after his death, but has not hitherto been made available in the UK or the USA. The book is fascinating in that it shows us Pessoa's view of his native city - and Pessoa, as an adult, rarely left Lisbon, and it figures large in his poetry. The book can still be useful to visitors today, given that the majority of the sights described are still to be found. A fascinating scrap from the master's table...
Fernando Pessoa is one of the great poets of the 20th Century, and is still something of a mystery to readers outside Portugal and Brazil, where his work has been elevated to classic status. Most puzzling for his readers, perhaps, is the fact that Pessoa wrote under a series of of other names A-- heteronyms, as he called them A-- and confusingly also under the 'orthonym' Fernando Pessoa, who is not the same person as the man born with that name. The major poetic heteronyms are Caeiro, Campos and Ricardo Reis, but Pessoa had a whole range of others: journalists, prose-writers, essayists, as well as two English poets in the form of Charles Robert Anon and Alexander Search, heteronyms used by Pessoa before the break-through year of 1914, when Reis, Caeiro and Campos all came into existence. Little of his work was published in book form during his lifetime: two slim volumes of English verse and the mature collection Mensagem (Message), but he left a trunk full of manuscripts and fragments A-- some 25,000 all told A-- and these have been mined by scholars ever since.
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