Voices: Manuela Nogueira, Luís Miguel Nogueira Rosa Dias, Antonio Cardiello, Jerónimo Pizarro, José Barreto and Sofia Saldanha
Fernando Pessoa & CO.: ”The Tobacco Shop”, Selected Poems: Edited and translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith. New York: Grove Press, 1998;
12. Eat your chocolates, little girl, Eat your chocolates!
Sofia: In the 1920s and 1930s Campo de Ourique was a district away from the city centre. It was where the lower middle class lived. Today at number 16 of Rua Coelho da Rocha is Casa Fernando Pessoa. It opened in 1993.
Sofia: Back in 1920 Pessoa’s family had returned from South Africa. He rented a flat on the first floor right of this building and moved here, with his mum. She died shortly afterwards. His two brothers soon left to study in England and his sister Teca married and had children.
Footsteps on wooden floor
Manuela Nogueira: I knew uncle Fernando from the moment I opened my eyes. He was an extraordinarily cheerful person, always in a good mood at home, he was nothing like the image that's given of him nowadays. He enjoyed playing with children, but not educating them. And then he wrote some very naughty verses, which is what children really like. My mother would say, "O Fernando for goodness sake", but and he insisted. I even have some of them here if you want to, I can tell you some. The Loch Ness monster, for example, the newspapers had writen about the appearance in Scotland at Loch Ness of the monster. "There is a Loch Ness monster, who is pretending to appear, it appears that he is pretending that nothing there appears. The Loch Ness monster is that one and this one. It is that one because it’s near this one, that’s why he has a thick neck and he swims completely naked without showing his bottom.” These are jokes that were recorded, some of them by an older, much older cousin and therefore he passed them on to me, because I didn't write well enough then or could ever guess that he would be a genius and so I did not keep anything, did I?
Luís Miguel Rosa Dias: He played with us, at the time, he played more with my sister than with me. She would shave him and all that, and then he would go along with all that very seriously and then would give her a penny and she would cross the street and go to the shop opposite to buy chocolate or sweets.
Manuela Nogueira: He adored children,he loved them. And then he did that thing of walking in Rua Coelho da Rocha and when he saw me at the window, he pretended to stumble against a lamp and then apologized to the lamp, and took off his hat and then he dropped a coin on the street. At that time there were children in the street, the grocers, who nowadays don't exist, they were the servants, the young, the children, who worked in the grocery stores and they came around looking for the coin, they were all around him and I laugh and laugh at the window on the first floor because I think I knew he was joking around.
Luís Miguel Rosa Dias: Then he would approach a street lamp and stand there in an Ibis position.
Manuela Nogueira: Then when he came home he pretended to fall down the stairs, he climbed 3 steps and then he made a lot of noise with his feet. He didn't care about making a fool of himself. And my mother used to say, "O Fernando, they'll think you're crazy." "Ah, that's what I want them to think", he'd say. My mother was younger, but she was playing the mother figure a little.
Footsteps on wooden floor
Luís Miguel Rosa Dias: My mother thought her brother was just there, writing and writing, and that he was not practical. And then she worried, she thought her brother was not eating properly, that he was always late, he didn't show up. He often did not eat lunch, he drank only coffee, and so on.
Manuela Nogueira: But he came very regularly to the house, he even came to lunch, you see, from the office and for dinner . And he gave me gifts almost every week. I had as many gifts from him as I've ever seen. Nowadays, I realize what that meant. We had napkins at the table and I'd get to the dining room and see that my napkin was rather fat, there was something inside it. I remember some of the things. One thing I loved was a white doll's pram with a red hood with a little baby sleeping inside, covered with some cloth. Oh I was so excited. I'd go crazy, I’d approach him and hug him and kiss him. I was very happy cause it was a gift. The serious part of Fernando Pessoa is the part of writing, of imagination. I know that my father had great admiration for him, he recognized him as a very intelligent man, he helped him even in certain initiatives that Fernando took. My mother used to say many times, "It’s a pity, Fernando, that you are not known", when he just read a poem after dinner.
Footsteps on wooden floor, seagulls
Manuela Nogueira: We had a corridor, now the house isn't like this, but we had a corridor in a L shape and I see the house as it was, which is nothing like it is now. You turned in, turned to the right and then it had the shape of an L and I remember seeing him in that corridor, hands behind his back, which was his position, in a white shirt, without a coat, with his dark gray trousers, walking in that corridor pacing up nd down for long periods, because he must have been thinking, he must have been creating. I had the feeling that I couldn't interrupt, it was a strange thing. I kept that sensation my whole life.
Sofia: Pessoa’s library is in this house. Most of the books that he owned are still here. His library really reveals a man that is interested in everything.
Antonio Cardiello: He was reading everything. Pretty much everything. This seems to be too much of a simplification, but it really isn't so.
Jerónimo Pizarro: And I think one of the great fascinations with Fernando Pessoa is that not only was he was several people, but clearly he was also the Portuguese author who have been interested in more subjects than others of that time.
Sofia: He was interested in all subjects and writers. But we find no diversity in gender. Most of the books he owned were written by men. But this is very much a reflection of the time.
José Barreto: He thought that the common people, children or women, he'd put everything in the same box, that they had no right to liberties, the rights, they had no right to freedom of speech as the intellectuals should have for him. Such as men. Because he also thought that the intellectual could only be male. An intellectual woman for him was a rare case. He agreed that there were such cases, but that they were not characteristic and in several writings he also argued that this was a kind of sexual inversion, that is they were masculinised women.
Sofia: Not all of the books are here, because he also used to sell them. Most of them are in English. Pessoa used to go to Livraria Ingleza or ordered books by mail. We know this from the lists he left. He also used to write notes in the books and through these notes we can learn more about his writing.
Antonio Cardiello: Many of the books were read several times. We have the underlining of texts, we have the reading notes, we have the marginalia. For example, in the library we have two editions of selections of English texts from poems by Walt Whitman. In one of these editions, we have a passage in which Walt Whitman is explaining who he is, that expression where he says "I am large, I contain multitudes", and this expression ends up arousing Fernando Pessoa’s interest, because he writes a note with a pencil in English "explication for Caeiro". And so the books themselves are small boxes and when we were there opening these boxes we discovered other boxes inside the boxes, so it is, once again, a kind of game played by Pessoa. We did not know what we were going to discover, we discovered unexpected things, again with the feeling that Fernando Pessoa was behind it all.
Sofia: The books have been scanned and are available online. It is now time to go to Prazeres Cemetery. You can start the next episode now and listen while you walk there.