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A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems Paperback – April 4, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
In his outstanding introduction to this work the translator Richard Zenith provides us with a guide to the Pessoa alter egos, or as he called them 'heteronyms'. He also tells in brief the story of Pessoa's life , a life dedicated more to his own genius than to real action in the world.
In certain ways Pessoa offends my sensibility and this especially in regard to his anti- religious Poetry. But on the whole his work is challenging and inspiring. He sees Nature in the poems of one of the heteronyms in such a direct and powerful way. He contemplates the meaning of Life and Death with ironies. He plays upon his own ambitions as a Poet , defining himself as Greatness and yet seeing ironically the whole of the human enterprise.
In this small review I have indicated only a small number of the themes of his poetry, and a small part of its virtues. It is Poetry which challenges and inspires.
For the long - time reader any discovery of a writer who sees in a new way is a great gift.
I feel this book of Poetry is such a gift.
Pessoa, like Neruda, Hernandez, Lorca and other Iberian/Latin American poets write with a genuine simplicity and beauty. In translation, there is feeling, depth, philosophy and simplicity - which is what I enjoy, what edifies me. I want layers and this wonderful collection has layers. Whether writing as himself or as his 'alter-egos', Pessoa is the great idyllic poet, the great poet of resignation, weariness, tenderness, melancholy and withdrawal, viewing the world from his various abodes of personality.
Maybe there is a time and place for American poetry of the twentieth century - I much prefer the nineteenth century giant, Walt Whitman (who heavily inspired Pessoa, Neruda and other Portuguese/Spanish poets). At this point, a book like this is a boon, making poetry accessible, beauty available as opposed to being imprisoned in Ivy-tower constructions. (As a side note, Pessoa never graduated from a university - he attended a few courses and continued his education through personal studies... highly admirable.)
Discover this great-but-little-known-genius. His "Book of Disquiet" is the prose version of his poetry, the same philosophy, same beauty, the same melancholy transposed into a quasi-journal narrative. Your life will certainly be changed.
Here is Alberto Caeiro, the sage, who sees in things only the things themselves and announces, “All it takes to be complete is to exist.” And here is the sad and wise Ricardo Reis who counsels us to “Let’s love with greater calm / Our uncertain life”. These are Fernando Pessoa’s “heteronyms”, but here also is Fernando Pessoa himself, no slouch as a poet.
My wife, whose name is Solitude,
Keeps me from being glum.
Ah, what good it does my heart
To have this non-existent home!
If you are shopping for a volume of Fernando Pessoa in English, it is useful to know that this book (published by Penguin in 2006) and Fernando Pessoa & Co (published by Grove in 1999), are both translated by Richard Zenith, but contain almost totally different poems. If you love Pessoa, you’ll want them both but, if you can only buy one at a time, this volume seems to me the most essential. Frankly, how people manage to live their lives without these poems is a mystery to me. How did I get by before I read Pessoa? I can’t remember.
For Pessoa’s prose -- most of all for selections from the diary of the assistant bookkeeper Bernardo Soares -- read Zenith’s Selected Prose. If you are a fan of Pessoa, it is thrilling to read Jose Saramago’s novel A Year in the Life of Ricardo Reis but, be warned, Saramago’s time-traveling stunt will change the way you read the poems forever.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you can't read Pessoa in the original, this Zenith translation is the best in English tbh.Published 21 months ago by .gaf
I got to Pessoa because I met a wealthy businessman who I suppose to ask for his successful experiences, instead, we talked Pessoa and his poems. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Zöe
Always looking for books that will expand my universe I must say the books by this author fit the bill nicely. The title says it all. Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by Patrick J. Moore