To be specified published in:Landscapes of Realism: Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives. Volume II: Pathways through realism
Edited by Svend Erik Larsen, Steen Bille Jørgensen and Margaret R. Higonnet
[Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages XXXIII] 2022
► pp. 667–687
Poetry, Pessoa and realism
This article investigates what realism, a term more often associated with prose, means in the context of poetry, and takes as its core example the Lisbon-based Fernando Pessoa, a writer of the city in prose and in verse, and perhaps Portugal’s most significant poet, alongside Luis Camões; yet also one who revives pastoral poetry in a teasing and non-innocent way. Pessoa’s poetry eschews metaphysics – a term which is defined here – and allegory, and yet is highly fictional in claiming to be authored by a series of other (fictional) people – who comment on each other, and contribute to a sense of the instability of identity including that of gender. The possible hysteria associated with that, and the concomitant trying out of sexual roles, is compared with what T. S. Eliot writes about in discussing ‘the dissociation of sensibility,’ as something that both realist and modernist poetry had to contend with, and with which Pessoa was familiar. The essay concludes by considering the high price that had to be paid in Pessoa’s work, and the signs of tension and torsion which mark his realism.
Keywords: realism, T. S. Eliot, heteronyms, ocularcentrism, metaphysics, innocence, childhood, hysteria, baroque sensibility
- 1.Introduction: On realism in poetry
- 2.Pessoa and heteronyms
- 3.Caeiro’s poetry
- 4.The everyday and metaphysics
- 5.Pessoa and hysteria
- 6.The “dissociation of sensibility”
Published online: 16 March 2022
All quotations from Pessoa in Portuguese from the following website: http://arquivopessoa.net (accessed November 16, 2020).
2020 “The Seven Old Men.” Accessed November 16, 2020: https://fleursdumal.org/poem/221
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