Pessoa, Fernando

Also found in: Wikipedia.

Pessoa, Fernando

(Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa) (pĕs`wä), 1888–1935, Portuguese poet, b. Lisbon. He moved to Durban, South Africa, as a child, becoming bilingual (Portuguese, English); in 1905 he returned to Portugal and studied at the Univ. of Lisbon for a year. He also wrote in French. He subsequently worked as a translator and wrote for avant-garde literary magazines. Reflecting the influence of both the classical tradition and French symbolism, his poetry moves from saudosismo, or nostalgia for a mythic past, to an increasing concern with consciousness and sensation. He is famous for having written under 73 different names, developing what he called "heteronyms," or alternative personalities. Five of these (his own, Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, and Bernardo Soares) are particularly well known. Each persona has his own putative biography, physical characteristics, relationship to the others, philosophy, poetic voice, and outlook, and in part reflects Pessoa's disbelief in the idea of an integrated personality. Among Pessoa's collections, which include poems in English, are Sonnets (1918), English Poems (1922), and Mensagem (1934). His greatest work is generally considered to be Livro do desassossego (1982, tr. The Book of Disquiet, 1991; complete ed. 2013, tr. 2017), an incomplete fictional poetic diary composed over the years by Bernardo Soares. 1991; later ed. 2013, tr. 2017). The notebooks, papers, envelopes, and other scraps comprising the work were found after his death; it is now considered by many the greatest masterpiece of Portuguese modernist literature.


See selected poems tr. by J. Griffin, E. Honig, and P. Rickard (each 1971), and by J. Greene and C. de Azevedo Mafra (1986); selected prose tr. by E. Honig (1971) and A. MacAdam (1991); A Centenary Pessoa (1995), anthology ed. by E. Lisboa and L. C. Taylor; collections of critical essays ed. by G. Monteiro (1982) and B. McGuirk (1988); D. J. Sadlier, An Introduction to Fernando Pessoa (1998, repr. 2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pessoa, Fernando


Born June 13, 1888, in Lisbon; died there Sept. 30, 1935. Portuguese poet.

Pessoa entered the faculty of philology at the University of Lisbon in 1905. He did not complete his studies there but devoted himself to journalism and literature. In 1915 he became the head of Orpheu, a group of modernist poets. During Pessoa’s life only one of his verse collections, Mensagem (1933), was published. Posthumously such collections as Poesias de Álvaro de Campos (1944), Poemas de Alberto Caeiro (1946), and Odes de Ricardo Reis (1946) appeared.

Pessoa’s poetic mastery and his ability to convey the most subtle nuances of thought and feeling made him one of the most important Portuguese poets.


Obras completas, vols. 1-5. Lisbon, 1942–46.
Obra poética. Rio de Janeiro, 1960.


Prado Coelho, J. do. Diversidade e unidade en Fernando Pessoa. Lisbon, 1949.
Simõ es, J. G. Vida e obra de Fernando Pessoa, vols. 1-2. Lisbon [1950].
Silva, A. da. Um Fernando Pessoa. Portalegre, 1959.
Moreira Duarte, J. A. Fernando Pessoa e os caminhos da solidão. Belo Horizonte, 1968.
Sacramento, M. F. Pessoa—poeta da hora absurda, 2nd ed. Porto, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Pessoa, Fernando. (1980j Textos de Critica e de Intervencao.
PESSOA, Fernando (s.d.): Paginas de Estetica e de Teoria e Critica Literarias.
Pessoa, Fernando. Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems, trans.
Pessoa, Fernando. Escritos intimos, cartas e paginas autobiograficas.
(16) Pessoa, Fernando Pessoa: Aforismos e afins, ed.