Pessoa's earliest heteronym, at the age of six, was Chevalier de Pas. Other childhood heteronyms included Dr. Pancrácio and David Merrick, followed by Charles Robert Anon, an English young man that became Pessoa's alter ego. In 1906/7, when Pessoa was a student at Lisbon's University, Alexander Search took the place of Anon. The main reason for this was that, although Search is English, he was born in Lisbon as his author. But Search represents a transition heteronym that Pessoa used while searching to adapt to the Portuguese cultural reality. After the republican revolution, in 1910, and consequent patriotic atmosphera, Pessoa created another alter ego, Álvaro de Campos, supposedly a Portuguese naval engineer graduated in Glasgow. Translator Richard Zenith notes that Pessoa eventually established at least seventy-two heteronyms. According to Pessoa himself, there were three main heteronyms: Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis. The heteronyms possess distinct biographies, temperaments, philosophies, appearances and writing styles.
- Fernando Pessoa on the heteronyms
« How do I write in the name of these three? Caeiro, through sheer and unexpected inspiration, without knowing or even suspecting that I’m going to write in his name. Ricardo Reis, after an abstract meditation, which suddenly takes concrete shape in an ode. Campos, when I feel a sudden impulse to write and don’t know what. (My semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares, who in many ways resembles Álvaro de Campos, always appears when I'm sleepy or drowsy, so that my qualities of inhibition and rational thought are suspended; his prose is an endless reverie. He’s a semi-heteronym because his personality, although not my own, doesn’t differ from my own but is a mere mutilation of it. He’s me without my rationalism and emotions. His prose is the same as mine, except for certain formal restraint that reason imposes on my own writing, and his Portuguese is exactly the same – whereas Caeiro writes bad Portuguese, Campos writes it reasonably well but with mistakes such as "me myself" instead of "I myself", etc.., and Reis writes better than I, but with a purism I find excessive...). »— Fernando Pessoa, "Letter to Adolfo Casais Monteiro", 13.01.1935, translated by Richard Zenith.
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