cover image The Complete Works of Álvaro de Campos

The Complete Works of Álvaro de Campos

Fernando Pessoa, trans. from the Italian by Margaret Jull Costa and Patricio Ferrari. New Directions, $21.95 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2988-3

Pessoa (1888–1935), Portugal’s best-known modernist writer, left two trunks filled with thousands of unpublished writings. This impressive collection features works written under his heteronym, Álvaro de Campos, including facsimiles of his original manuscripts and a selection of the writer’s prose. Whitman-inspired free verse abounds: “Life is so very unheraldic!/ So lacking in thrones and everyday pinchbeck!/ So essentially hollow, so self-evidently naked,/ Drown me, O noise of action, in the roar of your oceans!” Elsewhere, Pessoa writes, “Ah, dusk, nightfall, the coming on of lights in the big cities,/ And the mysterious hand muffling the hubbub,/ And the weariness of everything in us that turns us away/ From a precise, active sense of Life!/ Every street is a canal in a Venice of tediums/ And how mysterious the unanimous depths of the streets.” Pessoa addresses the ecstatic quality of his verse: “My poem-leaps, my poem-skips, my poem-pure-ecstasies,/ My attack-of-hysteria-poems,/ My poems that draw the carriage [...] of my nerves.// I stumble forward into inspiration,/ Barely able to breathe, thrilled just being-able-to-stand,/ And my poems are me unable to explode with life.” These pages do, indeed, explode with life, introducing audiences to a powerful and virtuosic mind. (July)