Pessoa’s Walter Pater: Archival Material from a Reading Story

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Abstract

In a polemical article Pessoa wrote in 1922 about his close acquaintance the poet Antonio Botto, Walter Pater was identified as a standard of comparison. Two years later, in the second issue of his art and literature review Athena, Pessoa became the first translator of Pater’s work in Portugal, publishing a brief prose piece, “La Gioconda,” extracted from the essay on Leonardo da Vinci in Pater’s The Renaissance. However, as the public now knows, after almost eighty years of constantly renewed posthumous publication, what Pessoa published during his life is just the tip of the iceberg. What he translated and published, together with the reference to Pater in his printed article, is but a dim reminiscence of both a well-informed interest, nourished for several years, and a much more ambitious editorial project. Such a project aimed to make Pater's name familiar to a community of readers who would eventually become readers of Pessoa’s literary works. The goal of this essay is to offer the reader a panoramic view of how and in which forms Pessoa’s literary production make reference to Pater’s, shedding light on both the influence and the instrumental use of tradition in Pessoa’s writings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-226
JournalPortuguese Literary & Cultural Studies
Volume28
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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