Voices: Fernando Cabral Martins, Manuela Nogueira, Teresa Rita Lopes, Rita Patrício, António Mega Ferreira, Richard Zenith, Steffen Dix, Antonio Cardiello, Patrícia Nazaré Barbosa and Sofia Saldanha





Escritos Autobiográficos, Automáticos e de Reflexão Pessoal, Poesias. Edição e posfácio Richard Zenith, Lisboa, Assírio e Alvim, 2003. * Free translation by Eugénia Brito


15. To live is not necessary: what is necessary is to create *

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Paper shuffling, drawer opening


Sofia: Pessoa dies. He leaves a trunk full of papers. There are about 30 thousand of them there and they are organized in a confusing way.


Pencil writing




Fernando Cabral Martins: There was no organization in the sense that nothing was complete, nothing was closed, I think, because no one really knew what was in this trunk and in that cabinet and in that suitcase, where things were stored.


Footsteps on wooden floor


Manuela Nogueira: My mother constantly had people asking about her brother. And then there were lots of people in the places where we were living, making a lot of mess and she was going from one place to another in the house, offering snacks to everyone who came, because my mother had the English craze of five o'clock tea, everyone had to take five o'clock. I'm also very keen on five o'clock tea. And my mother would go to the kitchen, because she had to deal with the five o'clock tea and all those people would stay there near the books, surrounded by all his thing. And then they books cut with blades, with the signature taken off, loats of them, which are now in the Casa Fernando Pessoa. Books were stolen, pages torn off, a lot of them. We only saw this later when we left home. Some things came out of the place, others were all disorganized, but anyway,he kept many things. So we have this little paper from the day before he died or the night before, before going into hospital, 3 days before. It's a list with a bottle of wine, a soap bar and something else, I don’t remember. He kept that little bit of paper. I mean he had the habit of keeping papers.


Old printing machine


Sofia: The leading figures of Presença were the first to publish what remained in the trunk.




Teresa Rita Lopes: At that time there were no photocopies, you know that changes things a lot. So they took the easiest way. They took what was typed and they took it to the typography and often it didn’t come back, because they used the originals. So Pessoa was very badly published, poorly published and it was like that until the 60's.


Rita Patrício: They are editions that we now recognize as very dated, very censored with some gaps, but they were the first, those that made Pessoa known to the public. Those editions have a strong historical interest for us nowadays, and they have the great merit of showing that Pessoa is much more than what had been shown until then.


Teresa Rita Lopes: That archive was about to disappear. Because the family wanted to sell it to the Gulbenkian Foundation, but the foundation was not considering buying archives. I knew about this while I was in Paris and in Paris the director of the Gulbenkian Foundation, who knew I was studying Pessoa, I was doing my thesis on his work, he told me. So I was in a mental turmoil, wasn’t I? And I immediately told my friend António José Saraiva, who was exiled like myself for political reasons. And he immediately called his brother on the phone. His brother was a minister, the last minister of culture of Salazar, José Hermano Saraiva. And José Hermano Saraiva was sensitive to the cause and also very close to his brother, although they were politically and ideologically in opposed camps. He was sensitive to cultural issues. So he was the one, well he used to say this on television "Ask Teresa Rita". It’s the truth indeed. It is thanks to him, the last minister of Salazar, that we have the archives here. Because the family, and they confirmed this to me, since Gulbenkian did not want to buy it, they were already dealing with the English, that were about to acquire the estate.


Library, clock ticking


Sofia: José Hermano Saraiva ordered an inventory of Pessoa's estate to be made. It was acquired by the Portuguese Government in 1979, after the fall of the dictatorship. Two years later it was incorporated into the National Library Archives.




António Mega Ferreira: Suddenly in 1981 the National Library received that shapeless monster that was Fernando Pessoa's estate. The issue with Pessoa's estate is the same as the issue of Pessoa.


Sheep bells


Richard Zenith: On the same page there could be prose on one corner about, I don´t know, his ideas on a political subject, in another corner an ode by Ricardo Reis, in another corner a poem by Alberto Caeiro, all written on the same day.


Library, fliping pages


António Mega Ferreira: If anyone wants to do, if anyone wants to be able to do serious, profound and scientifically unassailable work on the Pessoa's estate, he or she had to read the whole archive, an inhuman and impossible task, there are tens of thousands, not only texts, fragments, small notes, I don’t really know what else, you had to have read everything. I don't know if anyone could read everything, I doubt that anyone can ever read everything.


Sofia: In addition to the difficulty in dealing with the quantity of work, there is difficulty in deciphering Fernando Pessoa’s handwriting.


Library, clock ticking




António Mega Ferreira: Because his handwriting, in his best moments, that is during the day, is still ligible, but sometimes as the night progresses everything became much more complicated. And so there are problems of that nature. Now it's the vastness of Pessoa's estate that makes it such a bottomless pit, isn’t it?


Sheep bells


Steffen Dix: Nowadays we can say that we are blessed that he left things in the trunk the way he did. If we had a work already done, a complete work, made up of different interpretations, that would be a classic, but as it is it always continues to be alive and maybe even more alive than before his own death.


Antonio Cardiello: But what if this is all on purpose? And if this fragmentation so complex, where we cannot find the way out, what if this was all well thought out, premeditated, constructed, then we are before a genius that humanity have never seen before.


Sheep bells


Sofia: Using astrology, Fernando Pessoa came to the conclusion that in the year 2198 a major figure was going to be very important for the Portuguese language and for the future of Portugal. He concluded that that figure would be him, wholly recognised, fully understood.




Patrícia Nazaré Barbosa: Pessoa also came from the future and only in the future can he be understood. When Pessoa says that he will only be understood in 2198, we have a perception of the time we still need to process this evolutionary tendency as a whole, so mankind still has a lot of work to do. And Pessoa in a sense brought a vision of the future, that knowledge and he had no one to talk to about it to, in terms of social individual. It was as if he was talking to deaf people. So there can be material within what he has left that allows us also to learn from it and collectively develop this evolutionary journey. And then the contribution he gave isn't closed. It's still operational, because it has not yet completed its purpose.


Sheep, street sound, fado music playing on the street




Sofia: Fernando Pessoa an intrepid traveller. A man who is no longer of flesh and blood, but it's still to be found walking around Lisbon and beyond. And it is interesting to wonder what is still to come from Fernando Pessoa.


Street sound, fado music playing on the street, people talking and walking about


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