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Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was the greatest Portuguese poet of the twentieth century, or perhaps the three greatest. He is most famous for creating dozens of "heteronyms,"including Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and Alvaro de Campos, alter egos who were not mere pseudonyms but rather fully distinct author figures, each with his own aesthetic, personality, and biography. The Mariner, written in 1913, richly foreshadows the births, in 1914, of the great heteronyms and was one of the few texts Pessoa published under his own name, which itself became, in effect, just another heteronym.

Several volumes of his work are available in English, including The Book of Disquiet and A Little Larger than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems, both translated beautifully by Richard Zenith.

The Mariner (A Static Drama in One Scene)

A room that is doubtless in an ancient castle and that appears to be round. At its center, on a bier, a coffin holding a maiden in white. Four candles at the corners. On the right, almost directly facing whomever imagines the room, a single window, tall and narrow, through which can be seen, between two distant mountains, a small patch of ocean.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

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