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A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems Paperback – April 4, 2006


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A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems + The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics) + The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039556
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Translator Zenith's new selection of Portugal's major 20th century poet is more inclusive than any to date and includes works from all of Pessoa's alter-egos (each has his own biography, poetics and politics). Alberto Caeiro, the self-educated nature poet and shepherd, is a realist who is nonetheless given to flights of fantasy and idealism: "To think a flower is to see and smell it, / And to eat a fruit is to know its meaning." Ricardo Reis, a physician and literary descendant of Horace, wants a world that matches his classic ideals, and Zenith includes many odes to this effect. Alvaro de Campos is Pessoa's poet of great feeling and Whitmanesque abundance: "If only I could be all people and all places." The persona of Fernando Pessoa describes the effects of all this shape-shifting: "To be myself is not to be. / I'll live as a fugitive / But live really and truly." The absence of the original poems to compare to Zenith's translations is a loss; nevertheless, this a well-organized, generous and lucidly translated selection of Portugal's greatest modern poet.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Eight years ago, Fernando Pessoa & Co., a 300-page volume of Richard Zenith's translations of Portugal's great modernist poet, was one of the events of the year in poetry. Fortunately, Pessoa (1888-1935) was so prolific that only four short poems reappear in Zenith's new 100-pages-longer selection. To further prove himself no slouch, Zenith has written a new introductory essay for this book, explaining again Pessoa's partition of his poetry-writing consciousness into four distinct personae: Alberto Caeiro, a pastoral poet who died young; Caeiro's disparate disciples, stoic, classical Ricardo Reis and ebullient bisexual engineer and Whitman apostle, Alvaro de Campos; and the nostalgic "Fernando Pessoa--himself," as Zenith denominates the persona that bears Pessoa's name. There were additional "heteronyms," as Pessoa called his noms de plume, including some that wrote poems in English (which Pessoa learned as a boy in South Africa) and the bookkeeper who penned the prose work, The Book of Disquiet; Pessoa created biographies for them all. All four of Pessoa's principal Portuguese poet-personalities are obsessed with time, which apparently flows but is physically apprehensible only as an elusive point. Each wrote quite differently from the others, and as Zenith renders them, all wrote brilliantly. Particularly entertaining in this book are de Campos' lengthy odes, which are both moving tributes to and hilarious parodies of Whitman. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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There is Poetry great in its own language which does not translate.
Shalom Freedman
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.
Flippy
Always looking for books that will expand my universe I must say the books by this author fit the bill nicely.
Patrick J. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
There is Poetry great in its own language which does not translate. I know that Pushkin is for Russians the supreme Russian poet, but in translation the greatness is not felt. Goethe and Heine are supreme lyrical voices but do not translate their greatness into English. Borges on the other hand and Pessoa do translate. I sense this is because they are 'poet thinkers' who provide a kind of 'meaning' the reader can grapple with and struggle to interpret. They somehow tell us something that we can contend with in our own rewritings of their words in our readings.
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.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Flippy on June 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the poetry I long to read everything I pick up a book of poetry. I really can't stand American poetry (Lowell, Creeley, Merwin, especially). There is something overly Eastern-Ivy-school Pompous or plain irrelevant about their work. It is very difficult to penetrate their writings and I found it rarely rewarding when I understood their works - or whatever I understood.... They write, from what I have gleaned, without their hearts and overburden their writings with mind, intellect, a callous intelligence.

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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anand Krishnaswamy on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pessoa is stunning. He probably belongs to the heavenly club of writers like Shakespeare & Nabokov. His sheer breadth & immense sensitivity is sufficient to inspire any ardent reader to pick up a pen and attempt writing. This book is a collection of some of his poems (written under 3 homonyms). Not all the poems are spectacular but the collections is sufficiently brilliant for the aesthetic soul. Buy this book for the love of the word & the singular opportunity to be in the presence of such a beautiful soul called Pessoa.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zöe on August 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.

His poems are very philosophical, and his ideas are somehow of the same traits like Susan Sontag's. They both think sensations are more important than reason, because the world and universe itself is for our human being to feel, not to think, and judge.

I read those poems in short times, could read them again definitely.

Without literature, we cannot be rich.
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