L’héritage documentaire de Fernando Pessoa, considéré comme le plus grand poète portugais du XXe siècle, a été classé “trésor national”, a annoncé jeudi le gouvernement portugais.
This looks to put an end to some controversy that was started last summer, when Pessoa’s heirs planned to auction off a large part of his correspondence.
According to the TV5 article:
Elle s’applique à la totalité de l’héritage de Fernando Pessoa, connu ou à découvrir, et interdit toute sortie du territoire national.
La procédure de classement de l’héritage de Pessoa, qui comprend des milliers de lettres, photographies, manuscrits et notes, avait été initiée en octobre 2008 par la Bibliothèque nationale, sur fond de polémique autour de plusieurs ventes aux enchères organisées par ses héritiers.
Essentially, his papers—those that are currently known and those that are yet to be discovered—are forbidden from leaving Portugal.
Before getting to the really cool thing, here’s a bit of info on Pessoa, who—along with all of his heteronyms—really was an amazing writer:
After the death of Pessoa’s father in 1893, his mother remarried and the family moved from Lisbon to Durban, South Africa. Pessoa was educated in English and wrote entirely in English until he was seventeen, when he chose to return to Portugal in order to follow a university course. He soon abandoned his studies – a student strike disrupted classes – and, instead, set up a publishing company that rapidly slid into bankruptcy. Whilst in South Africa, he had followed a course in business English and bookkeeping and, since he was also fluent in French, he got a job as a bookkeeper and translator of foreign correspondence in a company in Lisbon and earned a modest living from this until his death at 47 from cirrhosis of the liver. In his spare time he wrote mainly poetry, but also essays and articles, and was involved in various short-lived literary magazines.
The only other works published in his lifetime were a collection of thirty-five sonnets in English (published privately) and a book of poems, Mensagem (Message) in 1934. His genius was only recognised after his death and he is now considered to be Portugal’s greatest modern poet. He left behind a large trunk stuffed with quantities of typed and handwritten papers which are still being collated and published.
Now to illustrate the difficulties of translation, Costa used created this exercise, which has the Portuguese original and a translated version where you can choose one of several different English words at a number of key spots in the text. (Such a good use of internet technology!)
Verbs of emotion are often difficult to translate, because one has to gauge the level or degree of the emotion described or expressed. Here, with ‘pasmo’, Pessoa is describing a high degree of surprise, so I think ‘I’m always astonished’ or I’m always amazed’ are better than ‘surprised’ – too weak – and ‘stupefied’ and ‘horrified’ – too strong. ‘Pasmar’ has more to do with shocked astonishment than with horror. With ‘desolo-me’, again there is no one perfect translation, since the word implies desolation, distress and sadness. As so often in translation, there is no perfect match, and so choices have to be made as to which nuance must be lost.
Very, very cool. And beyond this exercise, all of the workshops on the Literary Translation website are worth looking at.
The Guardian adds to the recent, and unexpected, surge of interest in Fernando Pessoa:
Although admired throughout Europe for his myriad alter egos – the 72 highly distinct personae he assumed over the course of his writing life – it is Fernando Pessoa’s mellifluous writing on emptiness that continues to haunt my imagination each time I read him.
John Gray has argued, in his introductory essay on Pessoa, that these “heteronyms”, as Pessoa called them, demonstrate that the indvidual subject – the heart of western philosophy – is an illusion, which Pessoa’s heteronymous authorship undercuts. But I would still argue that Pessoa penetrates, more importantly, into the dark side of the human psyche in his posthumously published collection of fragments: The Book of Disquiet – his disconnected ode to emptiness written by his semi-pseudonymous creation Bernando Soares.
A few lit-bloggers have gotten together to form The Blog of Disquiet:
The purpose of this site is to draw out everything that comes from reading Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. As the reading progresses, it will inform the content of this manifesto, which will – possibly – grow and change to reflect the effect of the book on its readers. While this may read as unnecessarily pretentious, in practice, as with the case of many blogs, the entries will reflect whatever reactions and thoughts the participants care to share, provided it centers on texts from The Book of Disquiet and does not digress too far from the source. Think of it as a blog from inside the text.
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .