Monday, June 13, 2011

Schools : Let's celebrate & read Fernando Pessoa ! Resources

Fernando Pessoa
credits: Ademir Pascale

Fernando Pessoa 1888-1935
credits: Casa Fernando Pessoa

"Fernando Pessoa only lived to see the publication of a small part of his extensive work, which began to be published in various book forms from 1942 onwards. He left more than 25 thousand sheets of paper covered with texts that he had written, and these are now kept at the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal. The long time that it took to decipher and organise these papers explains the lengthy interval before Fernando Pessoa’s work began to be published."

in Casa Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa
by Norberto Nunes

Google Doodle:

Today, June 13 Google celebrates with a Doodle the 123rd Anniversary of Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese writer of the XX century and one of Portugal’s most beloved authors.

Google Doodle Fernando Pessoa 123rd Birthday
doodler: Sophia Foster-Dimino

The Doodle references? The iconic portrait by José Sobral de Almada Negreiros: "
For this doodle celebrating one of Portugal’s most beloved novelists and poets, I referenced an iconic portrait by José Sobral de Almada Negreiros."

Fernando Pessoa
by Almada-Negreiros, 1954

"Pessoa, the author of many styles and pseudonyms, but his writing was characterized overall by a profound vividness which I hope I’ve captured in this depiction of him."

Sophia Foster-Dimino, doodler

Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon
credits: Casa Fernando Pessoa

  • Some biographical notes:

Fernando Pessoa was born in Lisbon on June 13th 1888. Following the death of his father in 1893, his mother remarried Commander João Miguel Rosa in 1895, who was the Consul of Portugal in Durban, Natal, where Fernando Pessoa was raised. 

Aged thirteen, Pessoa returned to Portugal for a year-long visit, and returned there permanently in 1905. After his seventeenth birthday, he returned to Lisbon to enroll in the university-level course of Arts and Letters, but dropped out after two years without having sat for any exams. 

He preferred to study on his own at the National Library, where he systematically read major works of philosophy, history, sociology and literature (especially Portuguese) in order to complement and extend the traditional English education he had received in South Africa.

And began to publish criticism, prose, and poetry soon thereafter while working as a commercial translator. 

Fernando Pessoa, 20 (1908)
credits: Fotobiografias do Século XX: Fernando Pessoa, p. 60

He was awarded the Queen Victoria prize for English at the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1903, for his achievement in an exam at the age of 15.

"Profession: The most correct designation would be “translator”, the most exact would be “foreign commercial correspondent”. His poetry and writing were not his profession but his vocation."

Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology, and horoscope. 

  • Bibliography:

His production of poetry and prose in English during this period was intense, and by 1910 he was also writing extensively in Portuguese. He published his first essay in literary criticism in 1912, his first piece of creative prose (a passage from The Book of Disquiet) in 1913, and his first poems as an adult in 1914.

Fernando Pessoa and his heteronyms
credits: Costa Pinheiro, 1978

  • Heteronyms:

“This tendency to create around me another world, just like this one but with other people, has never left my imagination.”

Fernando Pessoa in a letter to Adolfo Casais Monteiro about the genesis of the Heteronyms, dated 13 January 1935

Fernando Pessoa : Heterónimo
António Costa Pinheiro, 1978

Writing obsessively in French, English, and Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa left a prodigious body of work, much of it under heteronyms fully fleshed alter egos with startlingly different styles and points of view.

He called his most important personasheteronyms’, endowing them with their own biographies, physiques, personalities, political views, religious attitudes, and literary pursuits. Some of Pessoa’s most memorable work in Portuguese was attributed to the three main poetic heteronyms – Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos – and to the ‘semiheteronym’ called Bernardo Soares.

English Poems
Fernando Pessoa

During his life, most of Pessoa’s considerable creative output appeared only in journals, and he published just three collections of poetry in English -Antinous (1918), Sonnets (1918), and English Poems (1921) - and an epic poem in Portuguese, Mensagem (1933).

Fernando Pessoa
by Júlio Pomar, 1983

“He was a thin man, tenuous and frail, of medium stature, 1,73 m tall, slightly curved back. His chest was not well built; in fact it was quite sunken, despite the Swedish gymnastics he was practicing. He had long legs, not very muscular and his hands were slender and inexpressive. His awkward stride and fast pace, although irregular, denounced him at a distance."

He usually wore dark suits, grey, blue or black, at times short. He also wore a hat, normally wrinkled, and slightly tilted to the right. 

“His face was long and dry. Behind his small round glasses, of misty thick lenses, small brown eyes were hidden. His stare, when fixed on someone, was observant and sometimes even mysterious. He had a small mouth and thin lips, which were almost always shut. He had an “American” moustache which conferred him a special charm." (...)

Until his death, he did not abandon any of these different facets. Together with poetry, he wrote essays, plays, various letters and detective stories, and also devoted himself to astrology, besides being an inventor, a literary critic and a copywriter. 

Pessoa was convinced of his own genius, however, and he lived for the sake of his writing. Although he was in no hurry to publish, he had grandiose plans for Portuguese and English editions of his complete works, and he seems to have held on to most of what he wrote.

Fernando Pessoa, the great writer died on 30 November 1935.

Today, more than seventy-five years after Pessoa’s death, his vast written world has still not been completely charted by researchers, and a significant part of his prose writings are still waiting to be published.

Fernando Pessoa
Júlio Pomar, 1953


We are very honored knowing that international high-schools and well-known colleges all over the world include Fernando Pessoa into their most well known curricula Portuguese Literature and Portuguese language.

Some months ago, I suggested in my post Languages matter different activities to include Pessoa poetry into school curriculum (high-junior school)

Casa Fernando Pessoa, Lisbon

"With today's technology every corner of the world is linked together. The  new generations are globalized."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011

Teaching Pessoa poetry is easier now. Just link on the website Casa Fernando and your students will find different pedagogical digital resources completely free in Portuguese and English about the poet and writer.

Casa Fernando Pessoa
credits: Casa Fernando Pessoa


Casa Fernando Pessoa offers important free 
bibliographic digital resources aboutout his works which belonged to the personal collection of the poet, books, and notes by Pessoa himself.

Due the importance and rarity of these works, they are normally inaccessible to the general public. 

But now, according to the criteria of conservation and preservation, these literary writings can be consulted on digital format

The Libraries of Casa Fernando Pessoa, are an open space to read and study. It has three basic sections:

  • Fernando Pessoa personal library (with around 1 200 books), acquired from the poet’s family here;
  • The active and passive Pessoa library, containing virtually everything written by and about Pessoa here;
  • Portuguese and foreign poetry collection

Special arrangements can be made for those researching into Fernando Pessoa work.

The Library is a member: 

Fernando Pessoa illustration, with crow (Lisbon symbol)
The Learning Programme of Casa Fernando Pessoa has as main objective to promote the knowledge of author’s life and work. Daily, it works with schools and other educational institutions, developing programs, workshops, book reading projectsand visits for different age groups and focusing on multiple perspectives of Pessoa life and work. 

Casa Fernando Pessoa
créditos: Casa Fernando Pessoa

Children's poetry:

Fernando Pessoa has an unknown side of his poetry! He wrote poems for children. We can't miss those poems. We must include children's poetry by Pessoa into school curriculum (elementary schools). 

Read aloud and invite your students to read too to learn children's poetry by Pessoa. His poems are lovely! 

"Less than a quart of all languages in the world are used in education and in cyber space."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011

Children's Poems:

Here two different poems of Fernando Pessoa that children should read in Portuguese language:

As Fadas

Do seu longínquo reino cor-de-rosa, 
Voando pela noite silenciosa,
 A fada das crianças vem luzindo. 
Papoulas a coroam, e, cobrindo 
Seu corpo todo, a tornam misteriosa.
À criança que dorme chega leve, 
E, pondo-lhe na fronte a mão de neve, 
Os seus cabelos de ouro acaricia – 
E sonhos lindos, como ninguém teve, 
A sentir a criança principia. 

Em coisas vivas, e um cortejo formam: 
Cavalos e soldados e bonecas, 
Ursos e pretos, que vêm, vão e tornam, 
E palhaços que tocam em rabecas...
E há figuras pequenas e engraçadas... 
Que brincam e dão saltos e passadas... 
Mas vem o dia, e, leve e graciosa, 
Pé ante pé, volta a melhor das fadas 
Ao seu longínquo reino cor-de-rosa.

Fernando Pessoa, Poesias Inéditas

Cristina Sampaio, cartoonist


Ai que prazer
Não cumprir um dever,
Ter um livro para ler
E não o fazer!
Ler é maçada,
Estudar é nada.
O sol doira
Sem literatura.

O rio corre, bem ou mal,
Sem edição original.
E a brisa, essa,
De tão naturalmente matinal,
Como tem tempo não tem pressa...

Livros são papéis pintados com tinta.
Estudar é uma coisa em que está indistinta
A distinção entre nada e coisa nenhuma.

Quanto é melhor, quando há bruma,
Esperar por D. Sebastião,
Quer venha ou não!

Grande é a poesia, a bondade e as danças...
Mas o melhor do mundo são as crianças,
Flores, música, o luar, e o sol, que peca
Só quando, em vez de criar, seca.

O mais do que isto
É Jesus Cristo,
Que não sabia nada de finanças
Nem consta que tivesse biblioteca... 

Fernando Pessoa, Liberdade

"Multilingualism opens fabulous opportunities for the dialogue that is necessary to understanding and cooperation."

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Message for "International Mother Day 2011

Sostiene Pereira
Marcello Mastroianni
Roberto Faenza, 1995


  • Sostiene Pereira

Based on Afirma Pereira, a book by Antonio Tabbuchi, Professor at University of Palermo, and writer.One of the most important researchers of Pessoa.

Sostiene Pereira
Antonio Tabucchi

Sostiene Pereira
Antonio Tabucchi

The story follows Pereira, a journalist for the culture column of a small Lisbon newspaper, as he struggles with his conscience and the restrictions of the regime of Salazar. Antonio Tabucchi won the Premio CampielloViareggio Prize and Premio Scanno in 1994 for the novel.

Filme do Desassossego
João Botelho,2010

  • Filme do Desassossego

This film is based on The Book of Disquiet, the posthumous work of the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. It portrays the solitude of man through picturesque images and dramatic effects.

The Book of Disquiet
Fernando Pessoa

Published for the first time some fifty years after his death, this unique collection of short, aphoristic paragraphs comprises the "autobiography" of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa's alternate selves. Part intimate diary, part prose poetry, part descriptive narrative, captivatingly translated by Richard Zenith, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.

  • Videos:


  • Portuguese as second language in primary and elementary schools;
  • Portuguese as foreign language in High Junior School;
  • Portuguese Literature studies in foreign Universities.

In fact Pessoa work was a kind of open-sesame, insofar as it alerted the rest of the world to the rich literature being produced in a small country situated on southwestern Europe’s fringe - Portugal.



update: 13.06.2019
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Casa Fernando Pessoa/  Poetry Foundation/ Europeana/ Fernando Pessoa

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