The poetry of "the greatest twentieth century writer you have never heard of " -Los Angeles Times
Writing obsessively in French, English, and Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa left a prodigious body of work, much of it under "heteronyms"--fully fleshed alter egos with startlingly different styles and points of view. Offering a unique sampling of all his most famous voices, this collection features poems that have never before been translated alongside many originally composed in English. In addition to such major works as "Maritime Ode of Campos" and his Goethe-inspired Faust, written in blank verse, there are several stunning poems that have only come to light in the last five years. Selected and translated by leading Pessoa scholar Richard Zenith, this is the finest introduction available to the breadth of Pessoa's genius.
The translations are based on the most authoritative editions, verified against the original manuscripts
Includes an Introduction discussing Pessoa, his work, and the phenomenon of "heteronymy" as well as a chronology.
Translator Zenith's new selection of Portugal's major 20th century poet is more inclusive than any to date and includes works from all of Pessoa's alter-egos (each has his own biography, poetics and politics). Alberto Caeiro, the self-educated nature poet and shepherd, is a realist who is nonetheless given to flights of fantasy and idealism: "To think a flower is to see and smell it, / And to eat a fruit is to know its meaning." Ricardo Reis, a physician and literary descendant of Horace, wants a world that matches his classic ideals, and Zenith includes many odes to this effect. Alvaro de Campos is Pessoa's poet of great feeling and Whitmanesque abundance: "If only I could be all people and all places." The persona of Fernando Pessoa describes the effects of all this shape-shifting: "To be myself is not to be. / I'll live as a fugitive / But live really and truly." The absence of the original poems to compare to Zenith's translations is a loss; nevertheless, this a well-organized, generous and lucidly translated selection of Portugal's greatest modern poet.
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April 03, 2006
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