Celebrating his Birthday: Fernando Pessoa Puts Together a Guest List
You can’t get started any too soon, I say, even if your next birthday is not the 125th, which mine is. In fact, I already feel rushed. I must get started on the invitations list since getting it right will certainly take more than one stab at it. So here goes. First of all, Adolfo Casais Monteiro, whose nosiness helped me launch that whopper about the near-big-bang birth of the heteronyms, João Gaspar Simões, whose plodding, earnest careerism celebrated me early, promoted me late, to the end, not José Régio (well-meaning, but a pain) or Miguel Torga (despite his having lamented me at my death by closing his office and strolling about in nearby woods), Carlos Queiroz, who treated me like family and piped praise over the radio when I died), Luís Montalvor, who built his career by publishing my books, not Ronald de Carvalho, who pretty much forgot me when he returned to Brazil and who couldn’t care much about my posthumous reputation, Antonio Ferro, who for personal and political reasons kept up his friendship to the end, Almada Negreiros, who always up-staged me (and himself), Côrtes-Rodrigues, whose true sentiments lay with the folk, Pierre Hourcade, the first to translate my poems into French, Ilda Stichini, whose 1930s act included a declamation of “O menino da sua mãe,” which should have given me a greater boost than it did, Elizabeth Bishop, who scotched her classmate Mary McCarthy’s malicious plan to promote Willemsen’s attack on Edwin Honig, Mécia de Sena, who served as Jorge’a “accountant” by collecting everything her husband had written about me into two volumes entitling the work Fernando Pessoa & Ca Heterónima, Eduardo Lourenço, who ventured to publish his wealth of scholarly thought without footnotes, Octavio Paz, who struck the bell for me, loud and clear, with a single essay, Jonathan Griffin, Armand Guibert, Edwin Honig, Peter Rickard, Zenith, and Quintanilha-let these few represent all the earnest translators of the work, José Augusto Seabra, who despite his servility to Parisian semiotics managed to say some interesting things about some poems, Jerónimo Pizarro, who combines a prophet’s zeal with elbow grease, Maria Aliete Galhoz, who sniffed out the rubai poems after Alexandrino Severino tracked one down in a journal, Martins Garcia, who got a doctorate out of Northrup Frye and me, Teresa Rita Lopes, who saw the surviving papers early and was keen enough to copy much of them, Teresa Sobral Cunha, who kept on despite being mercilessly plagiarized as well as frozen out by Assírio & Alvim, José Blanco, perhaps the most disinterested dedicated scholar of them all, Jacinto do Prado Coelho, whose idea was that I personally had my cake and ate it heteronymically, that other Monteiro, who can’t get his head around the fact that I am not English, H. D. Jennings, who after his retirement learned the language so that he could read and write about me in South Africa, Robert Brechon who Frenchified my oeuvre as befits the Pléiade writer that I am, Angel Crespo, who should have worn gloves when touching the cenotaph, the touch was that hot, Luciana and Cleonice, grande dames who knew that there was always more than enough F. P. to satisfy the demand, Onésimo, who smoked out the strategy of mythos, Maria Irene Ramalho, who took note of Portugal’s westward look on Europe’s map and wrote a book, Susan Brown, whose knowledge was passed on to Harold Bloom, who swallowed it whole but misattributed it to Maria Irene, Arnaldo, who shut down Persona way too soon. Mustn’t forget Ofélia, steadfast, true, and silent to the core. Well, best to stop there, at least for the nonce, and let all others with a legitimate claim sit at the children’s table, where seating will be with Santa Rita Pintor and “o Mike,” that British half-brother of mine. That’s enough, I say, for now anyway.