Journal of Romance Studies

Fernando Pessoa and the ‘Shakespeare problem’

Journal of Romance Studies (2009), 9, (2), 11–25.

Abstract

Pessoa’s writings on Shakespeare are heavily autobiographical, ‘discovering’ in the Bard very Pessoan qualities. It is therefore not surprising that Pessoa should be intrigued by the possibility that the identity of his greatest literary idol might be an elaborate hoax, or a pseudonymous cover, as anti-Stratfordians suggest. The Shakespearean authorship debate generated much ink in Pessoa’s day, and he engaged with it in depth: most of the books on Shakespeare that can still be found in Pessoa’s personal library specifically relate to the controversy, as do most of his unpublished manuscripts (over 200) on the Bard. This article provides an overview of Pessoa’s reading and writing on a subject that fascinated him, and questions the reasons, psychological as well as literary, behind this fascination.

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de Castro, Mariana Gray