by Mark Dorset
George Steiner on the Case of Fernando Pessoa:
Suddenly, in antithesis to the appearance of Ricardo a new individual burst impetuously onto the scene. In one fell swoop, at the typewriter, without hesitation or correction, there appeared the "Triumphal Ode" by Alvaro de Campos—the ode of that name and the man with the name he now has.Pseudonyms, noms de plume, anonymities, and every mode of rhetorical mask are as old as literature. Motives are manifold. They extend from clandestine political writing to pornography, from playful obfuscation to deadly serious personality disorders. The "secret sharer" (Conrad's familiar), the supportive or threatening "double," is a recurrent motif—witness Dostoyevski, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Borges. So is the theme, ancient as the Homeric rhapsode, of poetry "taken under dictation," under the literal and immediate onrush of the Muses, which is to say the voices of the divine or the departed. In that sense of"inspiration," of"being written rather than writing," the techniques of automatic writing far predate Surrealism. A number of major writers have turned utterly against themselves, against their earlier work or style, to the point of seeking its destruction. Multiplicity, the ego made legion, can be festive, as it is in Whitman, or darkly self-ironizing, as it is in Kierkegaard. There are disguises and travesties that the most minute scholarship has never pierced. Simenon was unable to recall either how many novels he had begot or under what early and multiple pseudonyms. In late age, the painter de Chirico stormed through appalled museums and art galleries declaring famous pictures long attributed to him to be fakes. Did he do so because he had grown to dislike them or because he could no longer identify his own hand? As Rimbaud proclaimed, in his instauration of modernity, " 'Je' est un autre": " 'I' is another."
George Steiner, “Foursome: The Art of Fernando Pessoa”
The New Yorker, January 8, 1996
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|Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Eric
A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Portions of A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) were first published by Voyager, Inc., as part of The Complete Peter Leroy (so far).
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.
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