15 November 2009

Fernando Pessoa

excerpt from new posthumous Pessoa translation in December 2009 Harpers

Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long
as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most
intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over
this sketch of a story—about a man afflicted by
one of those personal tragedies born of extreme
shyness . . . who one day, while wearing a mask I
don’t know where, told another mask all the most
personal, most secret, most unthinkable things
that could be told about his tragic and serene life.
And since no outward detail would give him
away, he having disguised even his voice, and
since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had
listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensa-
tion of knowing that somewhere in the world
there was someone who knew him as not even
his closest and finest friend did. When he walked
down the street he would ask himself if this
person, or that one, or that person over there
might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing
a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be
born in him a new interest in each person, since
each person might be his only, unknown confi -
dant. And his crowning glory would be if the
whole of that sorrowful life he’d told were, from
start to finish, absolutely false.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXlzci1rKNM
    (this link doesn't really have anything to do with this post. i just thought you might enjoy it. you have to copy and paste it, sorry.)

    i love this excerpt though!