Richard Zenith’s definitive account of the life and work of the legendary Portuguese poet and author unravels many of the myths and mysteries about the great man in electrifying prose.
Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet is haunting and melancholy, and this completely unclassifiable work is the masterpiece of one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic writers.
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. Zenith sets the story of his life against the nationalistic currents of European history.
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 book – and talk – is also about Lisbon, the city which Pessoa reinvented and through which his different selves wandered.
Richard Zenith is a translator and literary critic. His translations include Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and Fernando Pessoa and Co.: Selected Poems, which won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. The recipient of Portugal’s Pessoa Prize, Zenith lives in Lisbon and will be visiting the Lusophone Studies Department at the University of Nottingham. We are grateful to the Department for enabling us to host this event.
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