Be Plural Like the Universe. Pessoa and Heteronyms

With the participation of António Feijó and Antonio Sáez Delgado. Moderated by Ana Ara

7 March - 7pm
Sabatini Building, Auditorium
Preamble with a reading of the following texts by Fernando Pessoa
"Vívem em nós inúmeros" (Countless Lives Inhabit Us). Ricardo Reis, 1935
"Carta a Adolfo Casais Monteiro" (Letter to Adolfo Casais Monteiro), 1935
"A passagem das horas" (Passing Hours). Álvaro de Campos, 1916
Related activity inside the programme:
Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía
In collaboration with
José de Almada Negreiros. Ricardo Reis, 1959-1961. Private collection
José de Almada Negreiros. Ricardo Reis, 1959-1961. Private collection

This session sets out to debate the critical potential of Pessoan heteronyms, analysing at once the central roles of biography and the author in modernity.

The work of Fernando Pessoa — and his creation of different heteronyms: characters with other names for whom he invented autonomous writings and specific biographies —  radically embodies the crisis of the subject in the transition period from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. This “drama in people”, as he called this procedure of heteronyms, enabled him to assemble a complex poetic framework, in which he superimposed and interwove highly divergent, and often antagonistic, literary voices and aesthetic and philosophical focal points.  

The reflections emanating from this practice are key not only for understanding the work of Pessoa but also to analyse modern identity as a multifarious and elusive process, comprising fragments that slip and slide. The heteronyms, an endlessly growing text, ultimately denote one of the longest-lasting critiques in the notion of authorship.            


Ana Ara is co-curator of the exhibition Pessoa: All Art Is a Form of Literature and a research fellow at the Museo Reina Sofía, as well as a project coordinator in the independent space CRUCE. Arte y pensamiento contemporáneo.

António Feijó is a professor of Literary Theory and a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lisbon. He is one of the academic directors of the project Estranhar Pessoa, a comprehensive survey of the Portuguese poet through his heteronyms, and the author of the book Uma admiração pastoril pelo diabo (Pessoa e Pascoaes) (2015).

Antonio Sáez Delgado is a professor of Literarure at the University of Évora. He has written the monographs Pessoa y España (2015) and Iberia. Introducción a un imperialismo futuro (2013), as well as translating The Book of Disquiet (2014). Furthermore, he has curated the exhibitions Suroeste. Relaciones literarias y artísticas entre Portugal y España (1890-1936) (MEIAC, 2010) and Fernando Pessoa en España (Biblioteca Nacional, 2014).