Voices: António Mega Ferreira, José Barreto, Pedro Sepúlveda and Sofia Saldanha
Sá-Carneiro, Poesias Inéditas (1930-1935). Fernando Pessoa. (Nota prévia de Jorge Nemésio.) Lisboa: Ática, 1955 (imp. 1990).
- 184. * Free translation by Eugénia Brito
10. Down there in café Arcada *
Sofia: You should now be in Martinho da Arcada. This cafe opened in the late 18th century. It was once known as the "Snow House". It was one of the few places in Lisbon selling ice, preserved from the snow that fell in the mountains. Ask to see the table where Fernando Pessoa used to sit. There are photographs on the walls that remember the time. Pessoa wasn’t just a writer he was a man of limitless interests.
António Mega Ferreira: The archive shows us absolutely extraordinary documents. The man was interested in windows design, the results of English football games, probably because of a betting system it didn’t matter. And this omnivorous curiosity of Fernando Pessoa was converging with something else, a graphomania absolutely unstoppable, anything he thought he had to write down.
José Barreto: How did he write? He has thousands of things written with a pencil. He always walked with pencil stumps in his pockets. If he had a whole pencil he would split it in 3 and then he would sharpen them on both sides. He always had pockets with 2, 3, 4 pencils.
Sharpening a pencil
José Barreto: That was the way Fernando Pessoa wrote. A friend offered him a pen, a very good one, a decent pen and he first rejected it, then accepted it but after two or three days, he offered it to someone because it tickled his fingertips.
Sofia: He also typed. He would spend the night at the offices organizing work and his writing. In fact, he liked having the keys to the office so he could work whenever he felt like it. Many of his ideas were for new projects. Some of them came to light others remained on the page. But none of them had any commercial success.
António Mega Ferreira: He had no talent whatsoever for business. He spent his whole life wanting to do business. He was indeed an extraordinary mental entrepreneur with very little entrepreneurial ability, so to speak.
António Mega Ferreira: There is an extraordinary document, which shows that at one point he wanted to set up a company that would be called Cosmopolis. The Cosmopolis documents are an extraordinary thing, because it's a list, if I’m not mistaken, of over 80 business ideas. I would guess that it was all done at the same time. And the most diverse inventions too, the typewriter reels are known, which pre-figure the ball of the electric typewriter, which was something that only appeared much later, the mining concessions business. What we can say today is that he spent hours and hours developing those ideas that have never been implemented.
Sofia: At one point he registered the company "Olisipo: Agents, Organizers and Publishers". It was in 1921.
Footsteps on wooden floor
Pedro Sepúlveda: The idea was to make an intermediary company in a certain type of commerce, so it would be useful for most things, including tourist publicity, about Portugal and Lisbon, so it was like this, he meant it to be a multifaceted company, say, but it lasted a short time and ended up publishing only 4 books.
Knocking on door
Sofia: These 4 books were the final versions of Pessoa's own English Poems, the Invention of the Clear Day by Almada Negreiros, the Divine Sodom by Raul Leal and the second edition of the Songs of António Botto. The books of Botto and Leal were seized by the authorities. They were seen as immoral and scandalous.
António Mega Ferreira: We all know that scandal sells and that the edition of the Songs of António Botto and in particular the Divine Sodom by Raul Leal should have sold well enough. The scandal itself was dear to Fernando Pessoa. He felt that these were the books he wanted to edit at Olisipo, although Olisipo's editorial plan was mind-boggling.
Sofia: By 1924 the Olisipo had finished. But Pessoa was still full of projects. He created Athena Magazine, which also only published five issues. In it Pessoa published for the first time Alberto Caeiro and Ricardo Reis, as well as the last poems of Mário de Sá-Carneiro. The main aim of the magazine was to publish Pessoa’s work.
António Mega Ferreira: It was disseminated in small doses and was building, so to speak, a poetic corpus, a poetic corpus mainly, an absolutely unusual poetic corpus and this is what made it possible in 1927 for the writers of the first edition of Presença magazine to salute him as the master.
Sofia: In 1934 a large sum of money would come to him, but not through business. In the next episode we will learn how this happened. Now you can go to Terreiro do Paço. Feel free to walk around there.