Fernando Pessoa and Co.: Selected Poems (Paperback)
Reagan's February 2023 pick
Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese writer, poet, flâneur, and devoted birth chart draftsman: when he wasn’t busy orchestrating faked deaths (waterfalls, magicians), he was generally involved in defining his own life as a poetic conceit of total negation. In both his poetry and his life, Pessoa viewed himself as “nothing--just an abstract center of impersonal sensations”: the dimensionless place where an infinity of poetic heteronyms could generate, with the poet “Pessoa” as their mouthpiece.
“Fernando Pessoa & Co.” collects the best poetry from four of these characters: the guileless master “Alberto Caeiro,” the modernist naval engineer “Álvaro de Campos,” the classicist “Ricardo Reis,” and the elusive Pessoa himself (a personality with neither more nor less reality than his fellow heteronyms).
A bonus: “Fernando Pessoa & Co.” features a brilliant introduction by translator Richard Zenith, which (what other academic preface could say the same?) primes the reader with a kind of electric horror: Pessoa was a modern sibyl who succeeded completely in erasing himself for the sake of art, and one devours “Pessoa & Co.” with an eye to pinning him down (impossible). Succeed or fail--you’ll be glad for the company.— From Reagan
"One of the great originals of modern European poetry and Portugal's premier modernist."--Washington Post"Pessoa has had many English-language interpreters but none better than Richard Zenith."--New York Review of BooksFernando Pessoa--a poet who lived most of his life in Lisbon, Portugal, and who died in obscurity there-- is now recognized as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. In a newly updated and expanded edition of his celebrated 1998 Fernando Pessoa & Co., which Booklist hailed as "a beautiful one-volume course in the soul of the twentieth century," translator and biographer Richard Zenith brings together Pessoa's most memorable poetic works. Present here is poetry by Pessoa's famous trio of alter egos--Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and lvaro de Campos--as well as a varied selection of poems signed by Pessoa's own name. From spare minimalism to revolutionary exuberance, Fernando Pessoa & Co. showcases the seminal poet's timeless and innovative work in all of its extraordinary depth and poetic passion."Like Beckett, Pessoa is extremely funny. . . . His work is loaded with delights."--Guardian"Pessoa would be Shakespeare if all that we had of Shakespeare were the soliloquies of Hamlet, Falstaff, Othello and Lear and the sonnets. His legacy is a set of explorations, in poetic form, of what it means to inhabit a human consciousness."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
About the Author
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was born in Lisbon, spent nine years of his childhood in Durban, South Africa, and then returned to his native city, where he earned a modest income as a commercial translator and lived for his writing. Most of his vast body of work was published posthumously. Richard Zenith is an acclaimed translator and the author of Pessoa: A Biography. He produced the first complete English translation of Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet and won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation with Fernando Pessoa and Co.: Selected Poems. He lives in Lisbon, Portugal.