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Fernando Pessoa: The Bilingual Portuguese Poet

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Anne Terlinden

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Fernando Pessoa was deeply influenced in his affective and artistic life by the nine years he spent in South Africa. His contact with two different cultures resulted in an amazing case of bilingualism. His extensive writing in prose and verse in English, of which a large section remains unpublished, throws new light on Pessoa’s complex personality. Faced by such an impressive quantity of English poetry, we have been obliged to limit ourselves. We have chosen to focus on The Mad Fiddler. Why, it may be asked, have we left out the youthful English poems written between 1903 and 1909 by Alexander Search? The reason is that The Mad Fiddler, written between 1911 and 1917, was of greater interest; the poems by Search are rather immature, whereas The Mad Fiddler offers not only poems of a better qualité, but it also represents an attempt by Pessoa to adapt in English current revolutionary literary trends (later to lead to "Orpheu").

Pessoa’s The Mad Fiddler not only throws new light on Pess...

© Presses de l’Université Saint-Louis, 1990

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