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Sunday, 2 January 2011

Fernando Pessoa: Blank Page


branca [1.3 MB]

Blank verso page following title page in Fernando Pessoa:
English Poems, 1921 (Biblioteca Nacional Digital, Lisbon)

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was relentlessly driven to create multiple variant literary identities for himself in his bewilderingly prolific writings.

With Pessoa the "true identity" question so often asked about writers by those who are not writers -- "Who is the real ____ ? In which of his/her works may the real
____ finally be found?" -- makes very little sense.

With a writer who appears to possess dozens of selves, which one is the true self?

It may help, in attempting to sort out this question insofar as it may relate to Pessoa (or shall we say, the many Pessoas), to consider the blank verso page following the title page of his
English Poems, 1921.

The minute grains and blemishes in the paper, the fading and discolouration, the faint stains and subtle craterlike smudges, the marks of folding and corrugation, all these small changes effected by the work of time lend the blank ochre-coloured page an uncanny resemblance to the vast, all-but-featureless landscape of a desert viewed in a satellite photo.

Meditating upon the relation of this not-quite-blank page to the larger work of the mercurial author Pessoa, one imagines the expanded view from that enigmatic gulf we call "space", the non-place where words and identities assume their true eternal insignificance.

Looking "down" from this privileged vantage upon that Great Identity-Free Void known as the universe of language, it becomes possible to sense a dimension in which a writer is permitted to have as many selves as there are grains of sand in the desert, or as he/she has works, just so long as they all fit into that one big trunk.


Ed Baker said...


de Campos

Pessoa's Swallow, 1971 SELECTED POEMS


and Paz' Introduction!!!!!

here is a bit out of the Paz intro:

"In one of the most quoted poems he (Pessoa) says that "The poet is a faker. He/fakes it so completely,/
He even fakes he's suffering/ The pain he's really feeling." In telling the truth, he lies; in lying, he tells it. We are not dealing with an esthetic but with an act of faith. Poetry is the revelation of its unreality.
(&this by Pessoa)

Between the moonlight and the foliage,
Between the stillness and the grove,
Between night's being and the breeze,
A secret passes.
My soul follows as it passes."

this Ed Honig sure can "translate"

and there is
a section:

"Letters and other writings explaining the heteronyms"

et ceteras

TC said...

And if you click on that blank page, Ed, it will become the magic carpet that whisks you over Vast Desarts of Eternity, ne'er to return.

(Send me a postcard from the oasis.)

Ed Baker said...

I'd send you a

i doughknot have your address
or your heemale!

mine is on &via my site

I did just "click" the tawny page
I can't mell it!

what the hell kind of
poetry is it that you
can't smell?

or eat?

Anonymous said...

Reading Pessoa and about Pessoa and heteronyms in bed last night (where I'll be for a while; I foolishly injured myself shoveling snow early Sunday morning and had a long time to look out and reflect on a blank page of white landscape), I wondered about this very subject, i.e., how one might visually represent the multiple identities/single identity of the author. You've done it. I'm grateful to you for this and, I would say, also to the librarian/technician at the Biblioteca Nacional Digital who decided that blank verso pages "are people too".

TC said...

Thanks, Curtis.

(And welcome to the invalids' club.)