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Powell's Books Presents Richard Zenith in Conversation With Patricio Ferrari
Nearly a century after his wrenching death, the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) remains one of our most enigmatic writers. Believing he could do “more in dreams than Napoleon,” yet haunted by the specter of hereditary madness, Pessoa invented dozens of alter egos, or “heteronyms,” under whose names he wrote in Portuguese, English, and French. Unsurprisingly, this “most multifarious of writers” (Guardian) has long eluded a definitive biographer — but in renowned translator and Pessoa scholar Richard Zenith, he has met his match. Relatively unknown in his lifetime, Pessoa was all but destined for literary oblivion when the arc of his afterlife bent, suddenly and improbably, toward greatness, with the discovery of some 25,000 unpublished papers left in a large, wooden trunk. Drawing on this vast archive of sources as well as on unpublished family letters, and skillfully setting the poet’s life against the nationalist currents of 20th century European history, Zenith at last reveals the true depths of Pessoa’s teeming imagination and literary genius. In stunning, magisterial prose, Zenith contextualizes Pessoa’s posthumous literary achievements — especially his most renowned work, The Book of Disquiet. A modern literary masterpiece, Pessoa: A Biography (Liveright) simultaneously immortalizes the life of a literary maestro and confirms the enduring power of Pessoa’s work to speak prophetically to the disconnectedness of our modern world. Zenith will be joined in conversation by poet, editor, and translator Patricio Ferrari.

Aug 4, 2021 04:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Speakers

Richard Zenith
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, Portugal.
Patricio Ferrari
Argentinian-born Patricio Ferrari has translated poetry from French (Alejandra Pizarnik), Portuguese (Fernando Pessoa, António Osório), English (Frank Stanford, Laynie Browne), and Hindi (Vidrohi). A polyglot, his work as a poet, editor, and translator bridges a life between languages. He edited two journals in the U.S. on Pessoa’s English writings (Tagus Press & Gávea Brown) and published eight editions of Pessoa’s works including the first critical edition of his Poèmes français [French Poems] (Paris, Editions de la Différence, 2014) and Teatro Estático [Static Theater] (Tinta-da-china, 2017). Ferrari resides in New York City and teaches at Rutgers University, while serving as Managing Director of San Patricio Language Institute (Merlo, Argentina) and pursuing a collaboration with the Endangered Language Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on the linguistic diversity of urban areas throughout the world.