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Fernando Pessoa: The Bilingual Portuguese Poet

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Anne Terlinden

Part I. The Bilingual Poet: Comparative Thematic Analysis

Introduction

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Fernando Pessoa has always been considered one of the best Portuguese poets, but we should not forget that he started his poetic career as an English poet and this astonishing bilingualism throws a new light on one of the greatest poets of our century. How can we explain this peculiar bilingualism? It has always been known that Pessoa had spent most of his youth in South Africa; but that aspect of his life had never drawn careful attention from critics until the publication of articles by Alexandrino E. Severino, Georg Rudolf Lind, Jorge de Sena and Maria da Encarnação Monteiro. It then became obvious that the relation between the poet of "English" language and culture and the Portuguese Pessoa was of the greatest importance for a true understanding of his complete work. The English cultural background, however, is far from merely transforming the Portuguese poet into an English writer; its importance lies in a better understanding of Pessoa’s intellectual and artistic education.

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