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Fernando Pessoa: The Bilingual Portuguese Poet

Anne Terlinden

Section 2. Path to Self-Knowledge

Chapter 2. Dream and Reality

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Fernando Pessoa is a bundle of paradoxes. He constantly oscillates between opposite poles. His metaphysical preoccupations live side by side with disconcerting contrasts between two levels of awareness: an interplay of imagination and reality, waking and dreaming. He doubts the reality of things and discerns an infinite number of layers in this Reality. This discovery is a source of excitement and terror for the poet; what he sees cannot be the ultimate truth; something else must surely exist. He is therefore tom between his inclination to probe the mystery of Reality and the terror of what he may find. Each thing inescapably suggests its opposite: the real and the ideal, material existence and the soul, dreaming and waking. The poet feels trapped in contradictory realities, even though Dreams can provide him with a glimpse of the "Beyond". Dreams are recognized for what they are-illusions-but keep haunting the poet’s mind, while reality is shrugged aside, but always keeps returning...

© Presses de l’Université Saint-Louis, 1990

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