A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems

Fernando Pessoa, Author, Richard Zenith, Translator Penguin Books $17 (436p) ISBN 978-0-14-303955-6
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.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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