The Lonesome Death of Bridget Furey, or: Pessoa Down Under

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The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre
It is arguable that Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), Portugal’s most celebrated modern poet and writer – also a dedicated Anglophile, who published his first four books (of a lifetime total of five) in English rather than his native Portuguese – has had even more influence on English-speaking prose-writers than on poets. This is certainly the case in New Zealand and Australia, where a number of essayists and fictionistas have taken inspiration from Pessoa’s concept of the heteronym, or alternate identity (of which he clocked up a lifetime total of at least 81 – including pseudonyms; autonyms; orthonyms; characters; semi, para, pre, proto and full heteronyms), and more specifically from his posthumous Book of Disquiet, available now in numerous overlapping translations, each (allegedly) more ‘complete’ and ‘definitive’ than the last. Writers such as Martin Edmond (Ghost Who Writes, 2004), Bridget Furey (‘Brag Art’, 1997), Michele Leggott (Journey to Portugal, 2007), Gerard Murnane (The Plains, 1982), Mark Young (Genji Monogatari, 2010), and numerous others have conducted literary experiments here in antipodean alteriority, many of them under the same astrological and occultist promptings as Pessoa himself. In this paper I hope to offer a brief account of the slippery overlapping realm of ‘truth / fiction’ many of these works appear to aspire to inhabit.
poetry, New Zealand poetry, Fernando Pessoa, Bridget Furey
Ka Mate Ka Ora : a New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics, 2019, (17), pp. 62 - 79