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Pessoa: An Experimental Life


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About the Author

Richard Zenith is an acclaimed translator and literary critic. His translations include Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet and Fernando Pessoa and Co.- Selected Poems, which won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. The recipient of Portugal's Pessoa Prize, Zenith lives in Lisbon.


Even now, Fernando Pessoa remains, in the English-speaking world at least, one of the lesser-known of the truly great writers of the 20th century. This immense, magnificent biography by Richard Zenith is going to change that... here is a revelation: a modern master to rank alongside Joyce, Kafka, Beckett, say. Such a revolutionary literary discovery seems unlikely to be on offer again. It's that good. -- David Sexton * Sunday Times *
Mammoth, definitive and sublime. Zenith has written the only kind of biography truly permissible, an account of a life that plucks at the very borders and burdens of the notion of a self ... Zenith reconstructs a life with supple scholarship and just the right kind of proportion ... never losing sight of the fact that Pessoa's real life happened elsewhere, as for many writers, alone and at his desk. * New York Times *
Erudite, sensitive and entertaining, this multi-faceted portrait pays its giant homage to a man who wasn't there. -- Boyd Tonkin * Financial Times *
A completely superb and magisterial life of Fernando Pessoa. Finally, this extraordinary poet gets the great biography he deserves. Unsurpassable. -- William Boyd
Monumental ... Zenith brought to the task a depth of scholarship gained through more than 30 years of publishing, translating and promoting his subject's work; Pessoa, who had few intimates in life, is lucky to have found this posthumous friend ... Pessoa really did build an entire city. It was a city that needed a guide. Thanks to Zenith, it has one at last. -- Benjamin Moser * New York Times *
A portrait with bags of personality ... Richard Zenith's massive biography of the Portuguese writer who constructed numerous identities captures his tragicomic oddity. -- Peter Conrad * Observer *
A gloriously labyrinthine biography ... Zenith's dynamic prose, deep erudition, and incisive readings of Pessoa's poetry make for a meticulous portrait of one artist's brilliant and bewildering inner world. * Publishers Weekly *
Finally! A brilliant biography that places Pessoa where he should have always belonged, with Joyce, Proust, and Musil - true giants, none of whom were Nobel laureates. -- Andre Aciman, author of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
is a triumph of scholarship and verve that one cannot easily put down. -- Antonio Damasio, author of DESCARTES' ERROR
Richard Zenith is his genius biographer who has given [Pessoa] fresh life. No one on earth knows more about Pessoa. With its historical sweep and novelistic execution, this biography will never be bested. -- William Giraldi, author of AMERICAN AUDACITY
When you consider the fantastically vivid details of Fernando Pessoa's curious life contained in this biography, and the energetic and elegant quality of the writing, you might wonder if this book is actually a just discovered autobiography, written by one of Pessoa's heteronyms, 'Richard Zenith.' No one, it seems, could know so much or relate it so marvelously unless they had lived inside Pessoa's head. Zenith's Pessoa is magnificent. -- Forrest Gander, author of BE WITH

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