«Genetic Criticism and the Relevance of Metrics in Editing Pessoa’s Poetry Patricio Ferrari* Keywords Pessoa, Poetry, Metrics, Genetic Criticism, ...»
Genetic Criticism and the Relevance of Metrics
in Editing Pessoa’s Poetry
Pessoa, Poetry, Metrics, Genetic Criticism, Archive, Private Library
Ever since the posthumous editorial process of Fernando Pessoa’s writings began in 1942,
editors have found themselves confronted with several challenging tasks: one of them,
undoubtedly, has been the deciphering of the author’s handwriting. Today, seventy years
later, an important number of manuscripts remain unpublished, while numerous other transcriptions need to be revised. The present article concerns a small corpus that falls within the latter group of texts insofar as it reviews the transcriptions of one Portuguese poem, an unfinished French sonnet, three fragmentary English odes and a later English poem. I propose to undertake the revision of the selected corpus essentially with the aid of metrics. Particular attention shall be given to the genesis of each one of these compositions.
Palavras-chave Pessoa, Poesia, Métrica, Crítica Genética, Arquivo, Biblioteca Particular Resumo Desde que o processo editorial póstumo dos escritos de Fernando Pessoa começou em 1942, os editores têm-se confrontado com diversos desafios, um deles sendo, indubitavelmente, a decifração da caligrafia do autor. Hoje, setenta anos mais tarde, uma importante quantidade de manuscritos mantém-se inédita, outra parte ainda necessita de ser revista. O presente artigo diz respeito a um pequeno corpus deste segundo conjunto, na medida em que revê as transcrições de um poema em português, um soneto inacabado em francês, três odes fragmentárias em inglês e um poema posterior em língua inglesa. Proponho-me abordar a revisão do corpus seleccionado essencialmente com base na métrica. Será dada uma atenção particular à génese de cada um destes poemas.
* Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa – Centro de Estudos Comparatistas.
Ferrari Genetic Criticism and the Relevance of Metrics Literary interpretation is grounded in the historical study of material texts (whether or not the scholars are aware of this grounding, and whether or not their criticism makes self- conscious use of it).
Jerome J. MacGann1 Introduction2 Anyone familiar with Fernando Pessoa’s archive3 is aware that deciphering his handwriting remains a most painstaking task, even if accustomed to it after years of regular practice. Different generations of editors have contributed to the publication of thousands of texts, as well as to the completion and revision of many others; yet, seventy years after the pioneering editorial work of João Gaspar Simões and Luís de Montalvor,4 more than half of Pessoa’s archive still awaits transcription and publication.5 Not only concerned with unpublished texts, some Pessoan editors still deal with the revision of a fraction of the posthumously published documents.6 The small corpus I intend to examine here comprises this latter group: (§ 1) a Portuguese poem published by Manuela Parreira da Silva, Ana Maria Freitas and Madalena Dine (Poesia 1902-1917, 2005; henceforth P02-17)7; (§ 2) an unfinished MacGann ( 1992: xxi). When not quoting from a first edition I shall provide the year in 1 which the work was first published before the publication I use. This will only be done in the first occurrence.
2 I thank Professors Martin J. Duffell and João Dionísio for their most valuable suggestions. This article partially derives from my Ph.D. dissertation (parts of chapter II and IV) presented at the Universidade de Lisboa (Department of Linguistics) in June 2012 and defended in October 2012.
3 (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal [National Library of Portugal] / Espólio 3 [Archive 3]). Pessoa’s archive was bought by the Portuguese State in 1979 (see Santos et al., 1988: 210).
4 The first volume of the collection, entitled Poesias de Fernando Pessoa, came out in 1942; it was an anthology of Pessoa’s Portuguese poetry edited by Simões and Montalvor. For the history of Pessoa’s posthumous editions, see Pizarro (2012A).
5 For an example of the on-going project of Pessoa’s notebooks, for instance, see Pizarro (2011A).
6 For recently revised transcriptions see, for example, Pizarro’s introduction in Sensacionismo e Outros Ismos (2009), as well as the critical study in the second volume of Livro do Desasocego (2010).
7 Due to the numerous posthumous Pessoa editions of a single work I shall always refer to the title of the book instead of the author’s name. For unpublished documents or documents that have never been critically published, I shall transcribe them according to the symbols used by the Fernando Pessoa Critical Edition published by the Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda (INCM) under the coordination of Ivo Castro: □ blank space; * conjectural reading; / / passage doubted by author; † illegible word; enclose word(s) that have been crossed out; / \ substitution by overwriting (substitution /substitute\); [↑] substitution by crossing out and addition in the inbetween line above; [↑] addition in the in-between line above; [↓] addition in the in-between line below; [→] addition in the same line;  word/phrase completed by editor. When Pessoa underlines a word/phrase he writes, this will be reproduced in italics. Note that when my transcription differs I shall write cf. before the edition in question.
French poem brought to the press by Patrick Quillier (Fernando Pessoa. Œuvres poétiques, 2001; henceforth Œuvres); (§ 3) three fragmentary English odes initially attributed by Pessoa to Charles Robert Anon and then to Alexander Search. These fragmentary poems were first critically published by João Dionísio in Poemas Ingleses (1997, tome II; henceforth PI.1)8 and subsequently (two of them and without the textual variants) by Luísa Freire in Alexander Search. Poesia (1999;
henceforth ASP). Stanzas pertaining to one of the two odes also included in Freire’s edition were critically published by Jerónimo Pizarro and myself in Cadernos (2009, tome I). The revision of the odes concerns the transcriptions given in these three different editions.
I propose to undertake the revision of the selected corpus partly with the aid of metrics (study of versifying)9 arguing, in each case, that this discipline offers valuable tools for the stabilization of texts. Because metrics is not limited to aiding in the stabilization of exclusively handwritten documents, I shall also consider (§ 4) a typewritten English poem transcribed by Christopher Aureta and published by Teresa Rita Lopes in Pessoa Inédito (1993; henceforth PIne). This latter poem, without modification, was subsequently included by Luísa Freire in Poesia Inglesa (2000, tome II; henceforth PI.2).
It should be said from the outset that the relevance of metrics in textual criticism has been argued by other editors. In the preface to Plautus’s Menaechmi,
for instance, A. S. Gratwick states:
The “metrical texture” referred to by Gratwick corresponds to one of the three requirements for “a satisfactory editorial solution” given by Martin West in his Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973). West worded it thus: a suitable editorial solution should correspond “in language, style, and any relevant technical points (metre, prose rhythm, avoidance of hiatus, etc.) to a way in which the author might naturally have expressed that sense” (1973: 48; my italics).
As Luís Prista has shown in the re-edition of a Portuguese quatrain by Fernando Pessoa (Prista, 1995: 199-201), attention to the technical aspects of a text The numerous transcriptions of “Poems by Alexander Search” done by Georg Rudolf Lind are 8 found in Pessoa’s archive (78 Annex). The three fragmentary odes here reviewed are not found among these transcriptions.
9 The first time a term is introduced it will appear in italics. Unless self-explanatory, terms shall always be defined; the definition will appear in parentheses.
may prove useful for the editor. In Prista’s case it was the attention given to the rhyme scheme of the quatrain likely followed by Pessoa. But Prista’s instruments were not limited to metrics. Taking into account a paleographical study of the autograph document and the sense in context (two other requirements argued by West)10 he arrived at a different editorial solution.11 In the process of my revisions these two requirements will not be disregarded.
Before turning to the poems that I shall undertake for revision, let us add that, in Pessoa’s case, the value of metrics as an aid will be heightened by the use of his private library. Held at the Casa Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon since 1993 and now easily accessible in digital form,12 Pessoa’s book collection contains most, if not all, of the canonical verse forms that he learned and eventually put into practice. Not only are they present in the private library but they also carry the traces of his keen desire for apprenticeship; numerous poems in books, particularly those dating from the Durban years, are marked, underlined, commented upon and/or scanned (see Ferrari, 2012: Appendix IV). Consequently, the private library, along with certain marginalia (annotations in the margins, flyleaves and/or other parts of a book) will serve as precious guides. In this vein, though scattered in the author’s archive, metrical sketches, scansions and/or other notes on meter and rhythm will also be perused. Thus, the revising process will be conducted, as far as possible, with an eye (and ear) on the stages of the creative process itself.
1. A Portuguese Short-Line Poem Destined to Ondas
One of Pessoa’s earliest Portuguese poetry projects, datable from 1909, bears the title “Ondas.” In a notebook under the heading “Portuguese Works” we find it among some forty other titles of the most diverse sorts (e.g., feminism, on rhythm, essays on philosophy, inter alia; see 144D-1r to 3; Escritos sobre Génio e Loucura, 2006: I, 37-38). In this very notebook there figures a more specific reference to this never-concluded book of verse. In Roman numerals and under “‘Ondas’ | Livro Dealing with classical texts (i.e., with authors whose textual witnesses are not available), West’s 10 third requirement concerns the clarification of transmitted corruptions that the “presumed original reading” may have undergone (1973: 48). In Pessoa’s case, most of the autograph materials being available, this requirement may be simply characterized as a paleographical inspection of the textual witness in question.
11 His reading differed from those proposed by Lind and Coelho in Quadras ao gosto popular (1965) and by Sobral Cunha in Quadras e outros cantares (1997), respectively.
And has been since October 2010: http://casafernandopessoa.cmlisboa.pt/bdigital/index/index.htm. Jerónimo Pizarro, Antonio Cardiello, and I have co-directed the digitization of Fernando Pessoa’s private library. The paper publication of A Biblioteca Particular de Fernando Pessoa (Pizarro, Ferrari and Cardiello, 2010), which accompanies the site, gathers in one volume the majority of the books, magazines and newspapers that were in Pessoa’s possession at the time of his death, on 30 November 1935.
primeiro” Pessoa quoted the incipit of the first eight Portuguese poems (of a total of twenty; the last twelve entries were left blank) (144D-4). If we trust the date on the textual witnesses,13 he composed them between 15 November 1908 and 27 January
1909. In this section I wish to focus on the two existing witnesses of poem VII, dated 31 December 1908.14
In all they comprise approximately 200 lines: I. “Tenho em vez de pensamento…” dated 15 13 November 1908 (34-15; P02-17, 2005: 32-33); II. “Canção”: “Ide buscal-a, Desejos…” dated 15 November 1908 (34-6; P02-17, 2005: 28); III. “Abenlied”: “O orvalho da tarde beija…” dated 15 November 1908 (34-7; P02-17, 2005: 29); IV. “Suspiro”: “Suspiro, quero ir contigo…” dated 15 November 1908 (34-8; P02-17, 2005: 29-30); V. “Nocturno”: “Dorme, creança, dorme…” dated 27 January 1909 (34-26; P02-17, 2005: 43-44); VI. “Marinheiro-monge…” (34-36 and 38); VII. “Choras?
Cáia o teu pranto…” dated 31 December 1908 (34-25r; cf. P02-17 2005: 40; Ferrari, 2012: 367); VIII.
“Para que vens? Já perdi…” dated 31 December 1908 (34-14; P02-17, 2005: 30-31). Besides counting the texts signed Lança, Pip, and Pancracio (see Silveira, 1988), there are approximately a dozen Portuguese poems in Pessoa’s archive dated prior to 15 November 1908. These poems were written in 1902 and 1908, respectively. There is also a quadra with a rhyme scheme xaxa dated 27 August 1907 (17-2r; Quadras, 1997: 188).
14 While in the notebook Pessoa writes “Choras? Cáia o teu pranto…” (i.e., “cáia” with the diacritic indicating the acute accent), in the two existing versions of the poem (figs. 1 and 5) he omits it.
My reading differs from theirs in the following: (1) inclusion of the verses below the dotted line (i.e., lines 5 and 6); (2) line 1: “Choras” instead of “Chorar”; (3) line 4: no period after “luar”; (4) line 4: the line is indented. Here is a possible new