The present digital edition of Fernando Pessoa’s work results from a collaboration between researchers of the Estranging Pessoa research project, based in IELT (Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition), New University of Lisbon, and the CCeH (Cologne Center for eHumanities), University of Cologne, including consultancy by the IDE (Institute of Documentology and Scholarly Editing) and by specialists in the work of Fernando Pessoa. Pedro Sepúlveda is the editor and editorial coordinator, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer is in charge of the technical coordination.

In a first stage, the website presents an edition of Fernando Pessoa’s lists of editorial projects, which constitute a significant part of his estate, as well as of the poetry published in lifetime, in journals and magazines. These lists of projects were published in a loose manner in different volumes, remaining a significant part of them still unpublished, here published for the first time. These documents are decisive for the understanding not only of editorial purposes, but also of poetic principles, which concern the elaboration, fixation and systemic organization of the work throughout the years. Its recognized importance (see Cunha 1987, Sepúlveda 2013, Sepúlveda e Uribe 2016) leads finally to the establishment of a comprehensive edition of these documents. This edition puts a strong accent in the relation between the potential character of the work and the part of this work that was actually published. Indexes of documents, publications, works and genres help to trace the chronology both of the projects and the publications, as well as to establish relations between them.

The corpus of the lists of editorial projects is established by delimiting these from other types of lists, also part of his estate, such as lists of readings, of books, objects or tasks. Concerning lists that have an editorial purpose, it has become common among critics and editors to distinguish between lists of projects and editorial plans, a distinction followed in this edition. A plan is a type of list referring only to one specific work, establishing a structure of the different parts of a particular title, whereas the lists of editorial projects gather different titles, of a particular nature and referring to distinct works. This edition gathers only the lists of editorial projects, which can also contain plans and editorial notes referring to the mentioned titles, in which case they are also included. It is mainly through the lists of editorial projects that one can trace the history of the development of each title, project or work, as well as of its organization, so that they present decisive elements for the study and analysis of the work as a whole. In a first stage, the edition gathers the lists that were elaborated between 1913 and the end of Pessoa’s life. In what concerns the poetry published in lifetime, we gather all the published poetry between 1914 and 1935, in periodicals, under the names of Fernando Pessoa, Álvaro de Campos, Alberto Caeiro and Ricardo Reis.

The edition benefits from the possibilities offered by the digital format, offering to the reader a combination of different modalities of text edition and proposing a new form of textual criticism within the study and editing of Pessoa’s work. For each document of the estate, the edition presents four different forms of edition: 1. a diplomatic transcription, including all variants, hesitations and segments later rejected by the author; 2. the first version of the text, as established and not rejected by the author, including extended abbreviations; 3. the last non-rejected version of the text, also including extended abbreviations; 4. a customized version of the text, allowing the reader to establish his own version, by choosing among the above mentioned elements the ones he wishes to see included.

Due to the existence of textual variants in the documents of the estate, previous editions define themselves by choosing a particular variant and establishing a certain version of each text. As it is well known, some editions follow by principle the first version of the text, others the last version, and there are also cases where a choice among the existing variants follows hermeneutic criteria (see namely Duarte 1988, Lopes 1992, Galhoz 1993, Martins 2011 and Castro 2013). The present work creates different modalities of access to each text, overcoming some of the previous oppositions between editorial criteria and accounting for the dynamics of writing of the author and its different phases. This editorial presentation of the texts offers a new way of accessing Pessoa’s work, by focusing both a significant part of the literary estate, held by the Portuguese National Library (BNP) or by private individuals (CP), and the publications carried out in lifetime. The acronym BNP in the documents, followed by a signature, indicates that these are part of the estate of the Portuguese National Library, integrated in its envelope 3. Documents held by private individuals are referred to by the acronym CP (standing for “Coleção Particular”), followed by a number.

The textual variants, the underlined segments or the crossed out passages are fully presented in the diplomatic transcription of each text, in a graphically legible way and without using any additional symbols. Especially the diplomatic transcription remains faithful, as much as possible, to the graphic disposition of the original document, reproduced as a facsimile accompanying each text and complementing its reading. The transcription aims also at a faithfulness to the elements of the original writings, maintaining the original spelling and correcting only clear slips. In this sense, we maintain all variants and crossed out passages in the diplomatic transcription, without inserting these elements in notes, as it is usual in other critical editions of Pessoa’s work. Maintaining these elements in the text body allows for the reader to understand the hesitations, variations and corrections that characterize the editorial projects and follow their development. Not only the development of projects from one list to the other becomes visible, but the substitution of one project by another, or the uncertainty concerning different versions of the same project are visible within the same list.

By adopting an approach that privileges the access to all the significant elements in each document, only the first and last versions of each edited text implicate a choice among these elements, apart from the correction of clear slips in each editorial version. The first version of the text does not include later added segments or variants, as well as crossed out passages. The last version offers only the last non-rejected variant established by the author, not including the previous ones. The customized version offers to the reader the possibility of choosing among these elements and modelling his own version of the text. The following symbols are used in the transcriptions:

  • blank space left by the author
  • * conjectural reading
  • / / segment questioned by the author
  • illegible word
  • [ ] abbreviations expanded

A short note to each document includes a reference to its previous publication, when it is not unpublished. The reference mentions its first publication, except in the cases where a more recent publication presents significant improvements in the transcription. The notes refer also to material elements and contents considered in the dating of the text. Material elements considered for this purpose include the type of writing, written by hand or typewritten, and the medium. In this context, letterheads, most of them linked to companies where Pessoa worked, and watermarks. The abbreviation «c.» («circa») marks the conjectural dimension of the dates, depending upon an interpretation of the elements and an understanding of the work exceeding its materiality. Even in cases where there is an autograph date in the document one cannot be sure that this document was written on that date, so that in no case we can avoid this conjectural level. In cases of a greater uncertainty, we indicate a timeframe of two or more years («c. 1916-1917» or «c. 1918-1920»), use an interrogation («c. 1914?») or simply indicate that the list belongs to a certain period of time («1916-1919» or «1920-1927»). The abbreviations «ant.» («anterior») e «post.» («posterior») indicate that a document belongs to a period close to a certain date, having been elaborated shortly before or after this date.

A search engine facilitates the specific search for certain contents and offers distinct modes of accessing he information contained in the texts. Several indexes, of names, titles of works or periodicals mentioned in the documents, help to organize the information. The access to the text may be achieved in different manners, by searching for an author, a document, a publication, a work or a literary genre.

The history of the projects shows a dynamic development of writing and its fixation through a publication or a proposed editorial organization. These distinct fixations present a strong meaning, even if changeable throughout time, contributing to a definition of the work not only from an editorial but also from a poetic and systemic point of view. Tracing the history of Pessoa’s projects and publications means thereby analyzing a work in progress, but always referring to a greater purpose, the one of establishing its sense as a perfectly designed whole.

This work wishes to contribute, through an editorial approach that implies a hermeneutical analysis, to a clarification of critical issues decisive in Pessoa Studies, such as the discussion concerning the supposed fragmentary or unitary character of the work (see Coelho 1949, Gusmão 2003, Martins 2003, Sepúlveda 2013, Feijó 2015). The material fragmentarity of some of the texts doesn’t invalidate the author’s purpose of exceeding it through a systemic fixation of the work, which, possibly revealing his permanent dissatisfaction, never achieved a definitive form. The present edition shows how Pessoa constantly worked in the organization of his work, as it is broadly exposed by the lists of editorial projects gathered and analyzed here, by contrast or in conformity with the publications carried on in lifetime. In both cases one can see how the outline of the work depends upon the definition of its contents, the establishment of relations between titles, and the attribution of authorship, expressed in the famous creation of authorial figures, including the one signing with the poet’s given name.

Sepúlveda, Pedro and Henny-Krahmer, Ulrike (eds.). Digital Edition of Fernando Pessoa. Projects and Publications. Editorial coordination by Pedro Sepúlveda, technical coordination by Ulrike Henny-Krahmer. Lisbon and Cologne: IELT, New University of Lisbon and CCeH, University of Cologne 2017. <http://www.pessoadigital.pt/en/project/about> DOI: 10.18716/cceh/pessoa