The recent discovery of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) is reminiscent of the discovery of Kafka at mid-century. Like Kafka, Pessoa left his work in disarray, much of it to be published only posthumously. And Pessoa has fast become a literary icon of postmodernism, as Kafka is of modernism. Pessoa is best known for his unique practice of writing under "heteronyms," distinct personalities whom Pessoa supplied with differing biographies, literary influences, even horoscopes; and each of whom generated radically different texts. Pessoa was a multitude of authors.
Since its publication in 1998, Exact Change's edition of Pessoa's major prose work, The Book of Disquiet, has been one of its best-selling titles, and extensive articles on Pessoa have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Voice Literary Supplement, and Washington Post. But the discovery continues. In 1999, translator Richard Zenith made a new find in the Pessoa archive in Lisbon: a group of prose writings by a previously unknown heteronym, the "Baron of Teive." The Portuguese volume of these writings has been received by scholars as a crucial piece of the puzzle that is Pessoa's oeuvre. The Education of the Stoic is the unique work left by the Baron of Teive, who, after destroying all his previous literary attempts and before destroying himself, explains "the impossibility of producing superior art." It is the dark companion piece to The Book of Disquiet. This is its first publication in English. There are in Pessoa echoes of Beckett's exquisite boredom; the dark imaginings of Baudelaire (whom he loved); Melville's evasive confidence man; the dreamscapes of Borges... --Village Voice Literary Supplement Anglomanic, myopic, courteous, elusive, dressed in black, reticent and familiar, the cosmopolitan who preaches nationalism, "the solemn investigator of useless things," the humorist who never smiles and makes our blood run cold, the inventor of other poets and self-destroyer, the author of paradoxes clear as water, and like water, dizzying: "to pretend is to know oneself," the mysterious one who doesn't cultivate mystery, mysterious as the moon at noon, the taciturn ghost of the Portuguese midday--who is Pessoa?" --Octavio Paz By Fernando Pessoa.
Translated by Richard Zenith.
Afterword by Antonio Tabucchi. Paperback, 6 x 8 in. / 128 pgs