Heteronym (literature)

Heteronym (literature)

The literary concept of heteronym, invented by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, refers to one or more imaginary character(s) created by a poet to write in different styles. Heteronyms differ from nom de plumes (or pseudonyms, from the Greek "False Name") in that the latter are just false names, while the former are characters having their own supposed physiques, biographies and writing styles.

In Pessoa's case, there are at least 70 heteronyms (according to the latest count by Pessoa's editor Teresa Rita Lopes); some of them know each other, and criticise and translate each other's works. Pessoa's three chief heteronyms are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos; the latter two consider the former their master. There are also two whom Pessoa called "semi-heteronyms", Bernardo Soares and the Baron of Teive, who are semi-autobiographical characters who write in prose. There is, lastly, an "orthonym", Fernando Pessoa, the namesake of the author, who also considers Caeiro his master.

The heteronyms sometimes intervened in Pessoa's social life: during Pessoa's only attested romance, a jealous Campos wrote letters to the girl, who, enjoying the game, wrote back.


See the introductory parts in:
* "Fernando Pessoa & Co: Selected Poems", ed. and tran. by Richard Zenith, Grove Press, 1999
* "The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa", ed. and tran. by Richard Zenith, Grove Press, 2002

External links

* [http://pintopc.home.cern.ch/pintopc/www/FPessoa/4hetero.html Four Poets in One Man]

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