An Introduction to Fernando Pessoa:
Modernism and the Paradoxes of Authorship

Darlene J. Sadlier

Foreword by S. E. Gontarski, Series Editor

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"Tells the 'story' of Pessoa in a very well-informed presentation. . . . both scholarly and suggestive in creating a rich world of literary referentiality."--K. David Jackson, Yale University


Darlene Sadlier's detailed commentary on Pessoa’s work explores some of the cultural, political, and personal implications of the artistic impersonation that made him one of the major figures in modern literature. He created a large gallery of authors, each with his own history, who also wrote essays commenting on one another--including Fernando Pessoa "himself." Sadlier’s study demonstrates the scope of Pessoa’s writing, ranging in style from "artless" simplicity to subtle, almost Borgesian irony, and it also traces the ways in which Pessoa’s four major "authors" (which he called "heteronyms") are related to one another.
Sadlier shows that the four poets engage in a dialogue, enabling Pessoa to dramatize the contradictions in his attitudes toward language, history, and society. And she demonstrates that, while distinct in attitude and style, they nevertheless share a preoccupation with the nature of poetry and are responsible for some of the most unusual and skillfully composed verse in the twentieth century. In striking fashion, they anticipate the postmodern deconstruction of the idea of authorship.
Sadlier offers a historical context for Pessoa’s work, grounding his poetry in Portuguese culture and the major political and artistic concerns of his day. She presents an especially important commentary on his childhood verse and on the early, formative stages of his writing. Finally, she discusses his posthumous reputation, showing how he has been ironically transformed into a single, apparently unified figure who has become, for many, a symbol of Portugal’s national identity.

Darlene J. Sadlier, professor and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University in Bloomington, is the author of The Question of How: Women Writers and New Portuguese Literature and the editor and translator of One Hundred Years After Tomorrow: Brazilian Women's Fiction in the Twentieth Century.

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Awards
Choice Outstanding Academic Title - 1998

"Her careful and helpful Introduction to Fernandoa Pessoa . . . manages to present complex elucidations in language of admirable plainness, mercifully free of jargon. The notes at the end of her work, as well as much of the text itself, are a mine of information about Pessoa, his work, and recent interpretations." -- W.S. Merwin, New York Review of Books New York Review of Books

"At long last an introduction to Pessoa (1888-1935) that gives US readers a comprehensive and competent account of perhaps the greatest and most complex of the European modernist poets. . . . Very highly recommended for both general readers and specialists, Sadlier's volume should be required reading for students and courses on early-20th-century modernist literature at all levels." -- K.D. Jackson, Yale University Choice

"This efficient book fills a gap in Pessoa studies. In direct, orderly, and unencumbered prose it presents the English-speaking reader with a clear sense of many of the salient features of Pessoa's remarkable literary achievement. . . . An Introduction to Fernando Pessoa will be useful both to newcomers to Pessoa and to old hands who continue to labor in the vineyards of Pessoa scholarship." -- World Literature Today World Literature Today

"This re-examination of one of the most unusual projects of European modernism will definitely contribute to broadening the understanding of Portuguese modernism to an English-speaking public."-- South Atlantic Review South Atlantic Review

"A highly readable and accessible study, which is underpinned by meticulous research. It will thus be of considerable interest to Lusophiles and non-specialists alike, and will be of use to those working in the field of comparative literature, in particular." -Modern Language Review Modern Language Review

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