Fernando Pessoa



– The poet is a pretender

Who’s so good at his act

He even pretends the pain

Of pain he feels in fact.

– I am nothing.

I will never be anything.

I cannot wish to be anything.

Bar that, I have in me all the dreams of the world.

– Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.

– My nation is the Portuguese language.

– I’ve always rejected being understood.

To be understood is to prostitute oneself.

I prefer to be taken seriously for what I’m not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect.

– I’m two, and both keep their distance — Siamese twins that aren’t attached.

– My past is everything I failed to be.

– We all have two lives: The true, the one we dreamed of in childhood And go on dreaming of as adults in a substratum of mist; the false, the one we love when we live with others, the practical, the useful, the one we end up by being put in a coffin.

– To have opinions is to sell out to yourself.

To have no opinions is to exist.

To have every opinion is to be a poet.

– I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else.

What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.

– But I am not perfect in my way of putting things. Because I lack the divine simplicity of being only what I appear to be.

– In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago.

And many of the seem to me written by a stranger:

I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else’s dream.

– There are metaphors more real than the people who walk in the street.

There are images tucked away in books that live more vividly than many men and women.

There are phrases from literary works that have a positively human personality.

There are passages from my own writing that chill me with fright, so distinctly do I feel them as people, so sharply outlined do they appear against the walls of my room, at night, in shadows…

I’ve written sentences whose sound, read out loud or silently (impossible to hide their sound), can only be of something that acquired absolute exteriority and a full-fledged soul.

– To love is to tire of being alone; it is therefore a cowardice, a betrayal of ourselves. (It is exceedingly important that we not love.)

– To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think.

– Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves. So that the self who disdains his surroundings is not the same as the self who suffers or takes joy in them.

In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people who think and feel in different ways.

– In my heart there’s a peaceful anguish, and my calm is made of resignation.

– Blessed are those who entrust their lives to no one.

– There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a
rule that doesn’t exist.

– I don’t know what I feel or what I want to feel. I don’t know what to think or what I am.

– I’d like to write the encomium of a new incoherence that could serve as the negative charter for the new anarchy of souls.

– Rocks in my path? I keep them all. With them I shall build my castle.

– Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.

– Let’s buy books so as not to read them; let’s go to concerts without caring to hear the music or see who’s there; let’s take long walks because we’re sick of walking; and let’s spend whole days in the country, just because it bores us.

Fernando Pessoa

(June 13, 1888, Lisbon – November 30, 1935, Lisbon),

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic and translator described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.

Literature and human destiny

In praise of reading and fiction



Literature is a false representation of life that nevertheless helps us to understand life better,

to orient ourselves in the labyrinth where we are born, pass by, and die.

It compensates for the reverses and frustrations real life inflicts on us,

and because of it we can decipher, at least partially,

the hieroglyphic that existence tends to be for the great majority of human beings,

principally those of us who generate more doubts than certainties and confess our perplexity before subjects like

transcendence, individual and collective destiny,

the soul, the sense or senselessness of history, the to and fro of rational knowledge.

Mario Vargas Llosa

In praise of reading and fiction



Nobel Lecture

December 7, 2010



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