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A centenary Pessoa by Pessoa, Fernando; Lisboa, Eugénio; Taylor, Len Clive

By Pessoa, Fernando; Lisboa, Eugénio; Taylor, Len Clive

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He meets his friends in the street or at the café. Lone drinker in taverns and inns in the old quarter. Other details? In 1916 he plans to set up as an astrologer. A. Aleister Crowley, passing through Lisbon in search of neophytes for his mystical-erotic order. In 1920 he falls in love, or thinks he does, with an office girl; the relationship is short-lived: ‘my destiny,’ he says in the letter that breaks it off, ‘belongs to a different law, whose existence you do not even suspect…’ No other loves are known of.

In 1913 he meets two young people who will be his fastest friends in the brief Futurist adventure: the painter Almada Negreiros and the poet Mário de Sá-Carneiro. Other friendships: Armando Côrtes-Rodrigues, Luis de Montalvor, José Pacheco. Imprisoned still in the enchantment of ‘decadent’ poetry, those young men try in vain to revive the Symbolist current. Pessoa invents ‘Paulism’. And suddenly, by means of Sá-Carneiro, who lives in Paris and with whom he keeps up a feverish correspondence, the revelation of the great modern insurrection: Marinetti.

One must wait for fifteen years and a new generation. None of this is unusual. The astonishing thing is the appearance of the group, well ahead of its time and its society. What was being written in Spain and Latin America in those years? The following period is one of relative obscurity. Pessoa publishes two booklets of English poetry, 35 Sonnets and Antinous, which The Times and the Glasgow Herald review very courteously but without enthusiasm. In 1922 appears Pessoa’s first contribution to Contemporanea, a new literary magazine: ‘The Anarchist Banker’.

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