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“Zenith’s selection [of Pessoa’s writings] is beautifully translated, compact while appropriately diverse, and another of its virtues is that it gives an account of a life that makes up in fascination what it lacks in outward event. Because there is no biography of Pessoa in English, Zenith’s confessedly ‘heavily editorial intervention’a chronological arrangement and lavish contextualization of these selected notes, fragments, letters and pieces of planned booksserves as the next best thing.”Benjamin Kunkel, Los Angeles Times
The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa
978-0-8021-3914-6 • $15.00 • Paperback • Aug. 2002
Building on the wonderful Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems, which was acclaimed by Booklist as “a beautiful one-volume course in the soul of the twentieth century,” preeminent translator Richard Zenith has now edited and translated selections from Pessoa’s prose. The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa offers a second sparkling opportunity to rediscover a forgotten master, a truly unique figure of early modernism.
Though known primarily as a poet, Fernando Pessoa wrote prose widely, in several languages and in every genre—the novel, short stories, letters, and essays. Drawing from a huge body of work that Pessoa left behind, The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa is further testimony from a writer whose worst enemy was his own brilliance. These pieces span playful intellectual inquiry, Platonic dialogue, and bitter intellectual scrapping between Pessoa and his many literary alter egos (“heteronyms”). Pessoa experiments with the surrealist technique of automatic writing and toys with the occult. The heteronyms launch movements and write manifestos, and one of them attempts to break up Pessoa’s only known romantic relationship. There are appreciations of Shakespeare, Dickens, Wilde, and Joyce, critical essays in which one heteronym derides the work of another, and a love letter by Pessoa’s only known female heteronym. Also included is a generous selection from Pessoa’s masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, freshly translated by Richard Zenith from newly discovered materials.
Fernando Pessoa was one of the greatest exponents of modernism—both in his astonishingly lively body of work, and in living a life that was at least as unusual. The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa is an important contribution to literature that brings back to life a forgotten but crucial part of the canon.