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Embodying Pessoa

Embodying Pessoa: Corporeality, Gender, Sexuality

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    Embodying Pessoa
    Book Description:

    As a whole, this work diverges from traditional Pessoa criticism by testifying to the importance of corporeal physicality in his heteronymous experiment and to the prominence of representations of (gendered) sexuality in his work.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2776-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Pessoa’s Bodies
    (pp. 3-36)

    The multifaceted and labyrinthine body of work by Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), Portugal’s greatest modern poet, has received much critical attention from Portuguese and Brazilian scholars and is internationally one of the most acclaimed monuments of modern literature, even as it remains relatively underrecognized in English-speaking countries, where the limited scope of Pessoa’s work available in English translation could, until recently, be partially blamed for this lack of acknowledgment.¹ Thus, one reason for the publication of the present volume is simply to respond to the scarcity of published Pessoa criticism in English, and to flesh out with varied textual references...

  5. Part One: Corporeal Investigations

    • To Pretend Is to Know Oneself
      (pp. 39-51)

      In this essay, I would like to explore the presence in Pessoa’s oeuvre of the recurrent motif of childhood play as a model for the heteronymic system itself. By looking at some of the heteronyms’ key writings on toys, dolls, and imaginary friends, along with a sampling of their debates on the question of genre, I hope to show how Pessoa positsfingimento– literally ‘pretending’ – as a new kind of super-genre to encompass all others.

      If the heteronymic work is not a ‘play’ in the sense of a stageable dramatic production – a genre with which Pessoa maintained an ambivalent relationship...

    • Strength, Contemplation, and Disquiet: Towards a Corporeal Aesthetic of the Heteronyms
      (pp. 52-70)

      My starting point for this discussion of the aesthetic systems elaborated by Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms is Álvaro de Campos’s essay ‘Apontamentos para uma estética não-aristotélica’ (Notes for a Non-Aristotelian Aesthetic).¹ In his text, Campos specifies the elements that define the ultimate goal of art and lays out the foundations of his philosophy of artistic creation. I propose to follow some of the heteronymous author’s steps, namely his search for an aesthetic that might embody a non-Aristotelian model, one relying on the idea of strength and thus contrary to Aristotle’s notion of beauty as the ultimate objective of art: ‘Chamo estética...

    • Unburied Bodies: Abdication and Art Production in The Book of Disquiet
      (pp. 71-100)

      The Book of Disquietpresents itself as the intimate diaries of Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon. “These are myConfessions,”¹ Soares writes in one of the many pieces in which he thematizes what he thinks he is doing by writing his book. The reference to Rousseau, however, could hardly be more ironic: far from the latter’s ideal of sincerity and naturalness, demonstrated by the revelation of a ‘shocking’ biographical event, Soares’s book is almost completely free of narrative or events – nor is there any great secret of which he is trying to absolve himself. He writes...

  6. Part Two: Reading Pessoa Queerly

    • Fernando Pessoa: The Homoerotic Drama
      (pp. 103-123)

      The homoerotic desire that runs through Fernando Pessoa’s oeuvre has been noted by succeeding generations of critics, from the now classic studies by João Gaspar Simões, Jorge de Sena, and Eduardo Lourenço to the more recent ones by Irene Ramalho Santos, Richard Zenith, José Carlos Barcellos, Mário César Lugarinho, Fernando Arenas, and others.¹ However, despite the eloquent and courageous attempts to call attention to the role of homoerotic desire in the Pessoan text, and in light of the manuscripts that are still emerging or yet to be discovered, much work unquestionably remains to be done. The latest discoveries made by...

    • Fernando Pessoa, He Had His Nerve
      (pp. 124-148)

      Principally because of their subject matter, particularized in uncommonly sensual detail – still a risky proposition in the first decades of the twentieth century – Fernando Pessoa’s two major English-language poems have been commonly ignored in mainstream scholarship on Portugal’s great modernist poet. There are major exceptions to this generalization: Jorge de Sena’s introductory essay to Pessoa’sPoemas ingleses(1974), Catarina T.F. Edinger’s monographA metáfora e o fenómeno amoroso nos poemas ingleses de Fernando Pessoa(1982), and Yara Frateschi Vieira’s studySob o ramo da bétula: Fernando Pessoa e o erotismo vitoriano(1989).¹

      Sena’s richly historical introduction to the English poems...

    • ‘Ever-repositioned mysteries’: Homosexuality and Heteronymity in ‘Antinous’
      (pp. 149-178)

      It is evidence of a wind of change currently refreshing Lusophone academe that studies of Pessoa’s work have begun to challenge the classification of ‘Antinous’ as a minor and – for some readers – mildly disturbing curiosity on the fringes of the Pessoan canon.¹ Such critical engagement has by now effectively contextualized Pessoa’s most candid and complex inscription of homosexual identity and homoerotic desire within both English-and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese-language traditions of male homoerotic expression. Relatively little, meanwhile, has been written about ‘Antinous’ in the several recent studies, such as those of José Gil and Irene Ramalho Santos, that cite...

  7. Part Three: (Dis)Placing Women

    • The Truant Muse and the Poet’s Body
      (pp. 181-200)

      The origin of the muses is lost in antiquity. They have always been more than one and are said to be the daughters of a female Titan, Mnemosyne (Memory), and Zeus. Traditionally, the muses signify the power of creativity but they do not have the power themselves. They are merely the vessels to convey the power. The names by which we came to know the nine muses and the competences of each one of them seem to have been established in ancient Rome. Their nine specialties are somehow all related to music or language: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato...

    • Kissing all Whores: Displaced Women and the Poetics of Modernity in Álvaro de Campos
      (pp. 201-223)

      It is widely acknowledged among scholars of Portuguese modernism that Álvaro de Campos is the player in Fernando Pessoa’s ‘drama-in-people’ who most vividly expressed the essence of early twentieth-century modernity. Imbued with the symptomatic explosion of modern industrialized production concurrent to the nostalgia for a premodern era,¹ Campos’s work problematizes the pervasive normalization of subjectivity characteristic of modern societies.² As this study will explore, this disruption of fixed ontological identities is prominently articulated through the expression of the poet’s multiple sexualities that rejects a binary male/female construct and entails the displacement of women in Campos’s poetry.

      Campos’s vast and eclectic...

    • Together at Last: Reading the Love Letters of Ophelia Queiroz and Fernando Pessoa
      (pp. 224-242)

      In the tradition ofpessoanocriticism, the self-sustaining autobiographic fiction of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronymousdrama em gentehas been explored and interpreted, for the most part, as separate and distinct from the historical daily matter of its author’s personal identities as a member of a large extended family, a free-lance professional and occasional aspiring entrepreneur, and a politically aware citizen. While Pessoa himself sporadically transgressed the implicit boundary demarcating his extratextual existence from his manifold lives in literature (with Álvaro de Campos as the usual designated trespasser), he also emphasized it on numerous occasions in his writings, most prominently in...

  8. Part Four: Pessoa in Performance

    • Appearances of the Author
      (pp. 245-257)

      The poetics offingimento(feigning, faking) created by Fernando Pessoa finds its primary artistic reference in the theatre. ‘O poeta é um fingidor’ (The poet is a faker) and therefore he becomes an actor, along with all the paradoxes that this identification entails.¹ His art does not consist of expressing his pain, in the manner of the Romantic artist, but in fabricating that pain before the eyes of the spectators. His art, and his pain, have a semiotic nature rather than a psychological one.

      At the same time, Pessoa’s concept of heteronymy, his great fictional masterpiece of a drama in...

    • Automatic Romance: Pessoa’s Mediumistic Writings as Sexual Theatre
      (pp. 258-272)

      Fernando Pessoa, interested from a young age in hermetic religious traditions and the occult sciences, seems to have been initiated into spiritism when living with his Aunt Anica, between 1912 and 1914.¹ This aunt, in whose home there were family seances, was an adept of automatic writing, whose original form might better be termed mediumistic writing, to distinguish it from the French surrealist practice of writing directly out of the subconscious. It may be that all automatic writing is ultimately a subconscious expression, but the practitioners of the spiritist school purportedly receive, through their writing hand, communications from the dead....

    • Antonio Tabucchi in Search of Pessoa’s Heteronymous Body
      (pp. 273-292)

      The Italian novelist, critic, and translator Antonio Tabucchi often populates his works with representations of Fernando Pessoa, thereby creating a metanarrative space in which the concept of authorial identity is challenged.¹ More precisely, the Portuguese poet, portrayed as both a high modernist and a precursor of postmodern thought and narrative strategies, functions in this metaliterary textual corpus both as a sort of Pirandellian character in search of an author and as a literary model to be deconstructed.² As my point of departure I take contrastive definitions of modernism as an ontological search into the notions of authorship and subjectivity and...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 293-296)
  10. Index
    (pp. 297-303)