About the project

1. The digital edition

This digital edition of Fernando Pessoa's work was born out of a collaboration between the Estranhar Pessoa project, based at the IELT (Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition), at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and the CCeH (Cologne Center for eHumanities), at the University of Cologne. Made available to readers in 2017, it currently includes researchers from the Estranhar Pessoa project (IELT, NOVA FCSH), the University of Rostock and the EAFIT University of Medellín, including consultancy from the IDE (Institute of Documentology and Scholarly Editing) and specialists in the work of Fernando Pessoa (see here for the constitution of the team, institutions involved and sources of funding). Editorial coordination is the responsibility of Pedro Sepúlveda, technical coordination is the responsibility of Ulrike Henny-Krahmer, editing is the responsibility of Pedro Sepúlveda, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer and Jorge Uribe.

The portal presents an edition of the lists of of Fernando Pessoa's publishing projects, which form a part of his estate, as well as the author's publications in his lifetime. In its current version, the edition includes the lists drawn up between 1913 and the end of Pessoa's life. Regarding the publications during his lifetime, we have collected all the poetry published by the author between 1914 and 1935, in periodicals, pamphlets and in book form, under the names of Fernando Pessoa, Álvaro de Campos, Alberto Caeiro and Ricardo Reis, as well as all the prose published during his lifetime, in newspapers and magazines, under the names of Fernando Pessoa, Álvaro de Campos and Bernardo Soares, from 1912 onwards.

All the documents in the Digital Edition are encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standard, which provides not only the basis for representing written sources in a digital environment, but also concepts and techniques for recording variants and versions. The reader will find detailed documentation on the tools and criteria used in the electronic text encoding here, explained through examples from the edition. This edition is constantly updated, making different versions available over time, indicated at the bottom of the opening page.

2. Project lists

The lists of projects were published in scattered form in various editions, and a significant number of them are still unpublished, published here for the first time. They are decisive documents for understanding not only editorial but also poetic purposes, the elaboration, fixation and systemic organization of the work over time. Their already recognized relevance (cf. Cunha 1987, Sepúlveda 2013, Sepúlveda and Uribe 2016) finds expression in the establishment of a reference edition of these documents. This edition places a strong emphasis on the relationship between the potential nature of the work and what was actually published. Indexes of documents, publications and genres, as well as of occurrences of names, titles and periodicals, make it possible to precisely trace the chronology of both projects and publications, as well as to establish relationships between them.

The corpus made up of Pessoa's lists of editorial projects is delimited by opposition to other types of lists, also present in his estate, such as lists of readings, books, other objects or tasks to be carried out. With regard to editorial lists, for the purposes of this edition and in line with what has been argued, a distinction is made between project lists and editorial plans. While a plan is a list referring to a single work, which structures the constituent parts of a single title, editorial project lists bring together several titles, of a particular nature, corresponding to different works. This edition only covers lists of editorial projects, which may also contain plans and editorial notes for the titles listed, in which case they are also included in the edition. It is preferably through the lists of editorial projects that it is possible to trace the history of the development of each title, project or work, as well as its organization, which is why they are decisive for the study and analysis of the work as a whole.

3. Publications in lifetime

When editing the publications in life, particular attention is paid to the specific way in which each text was published by the author, taking into account its own characteristics as a bibliographic piece. Preserving these characteristics for a proper reading, republications that integrate a certain text into a distinct set are edited as autonomous units, while publications of the same text that only present textual variations between them are constituted in a critical text. This particular attention is in line with Jerome McGann's considerations (1991, 13-16) regarding the importance of the text's bibliographic code. Extending his considerations to the field of digital editing, McGann (2001, 11-12) emphasized the need to reconcile, through digital editing, the purposes of critical editing and facsimile editions, showing the bibliographic particularities of the support of each text, as well as its particular context of publication. The edition contemplates these particularities through the articulation between the facsimile and the edited text, and the presentation of each text as a piece belonging to a given context and published on a given medium, with its own visual and linguistic characteristics. As the edited text is presented in a way that is close to the facsimile, its fixation on the new medium does not require absolute type and chirographic fidelity. Instead, the text is presented as a structured version, with specific markings for each element.

While the variations between different publications, which correspond to different entries in the edition, are briefly indicated in an editorial note, the textual variations between publications in the same set or in a single text, which include punctuation and the use of capital letters, are presented in an immediately visible way in the body of the text, using the “parallel segmentation” method. In either case, a brief editorial note sets out the various publications of the text and their fundamental differences. The “parallel segmentation method” strategy is based on encoding the variants precisely where they are found in the text to be edited. Thus, the apparatus is not stored separately, but directly integrated into the text. All the variants are reproduced in the edition, privileging one of them in the body of the text, according to textual coherence and the circumstances of publication. This is particularly important in the case of Pessoa's work, because it makes it possible to choose a variant corresponding to one of the versions of the text, always taking into account the wider bibliographical context, and thus establishing a critical text that is sensitive to the whole of Pessoa's work.

4. Criteria and goals of the edition

The edition benefits from the possibilities offered by the digital format, offering the reader a combination of different kinds of edited texts. In the case of estate documents, three editing modes are presented: 1. diplomatic transcription, including all variants, hesitations and passages later rejected by the author; 2. first version of the text, as established and not rejected by the author, including the expansion of abbreviations; 3. last version of the text not rejected by the author, also including expanded abbreviations. In the case of the publications in lifetime, two types of editing are offered: 1. conservative transcription, with the original spelling, and keeping the abbreviations introduced in the text; 2. transcription with modernized spelling, following the 1990 Portuguese Orthographic Agreement, in prose texts, including the expansion of abbreviations. Any page breaks are indicated in square brackets in the margin of the text.

Given the existence of textual variants in the documents in the collection, previous editions in book format are defined on the basis of the chosen reading and the established version of each text. As is widely known, some editions tend to follow the first reading of the text, others the last, and there are also cases in which the choice between the existing variants is made on the basis of a hermeneutical criterion (cf. Duarte 1988, Lopes 1992, Galhoz 1993, Martins 2011 and Castro 2013). The current edition provides different ways of accessing each text, trying to avoid some of the previous oppositions between editorial criteria and taking into account the dynamism of the author's writing and its different stages.

This editorial presentation of the texts offers new ways of accessing Pessoa's work, focusing both on a significant part of his literary estate, held by the National Library of Portugal (BNP) or by private individuals (CP), and on the publications made during his lifetime. The acronym BNP on the documents, followed by a quota, indicates that they are part of the National Library's collection, in its envelope 3. Documents in private collections are referred to by the acronym CP, followed by a number. For the publications in lifetime, texts are indicated by their respective publication titles, respecting the particular way in which they were published. For a minimum of uniformity, titles in the access menus follow modern spelling; titles of poems are always indicated using capital letters, except for articles and prepositions, and in prose only with initial capital letters. In the case of book prefaces, the title is followed by an indication of the work being prefaced.

The edition includes a specialized bibliography, mainly dedicated to gathering references to the sources that, over the years, have made the various documents in the collection accessible, proposing a look at the potential of Pessoa's work as a set of projects. This bibliography also indicates editions, essays, and academic or promotional articles which, in recent decades, have contributed to the rediscovery of elements of Pessoa's work published by the author himself during his lifetime.

The textual variants, underlines and crossed-out passages are presented in their entirety in the diplomatic transcription of each document in the collection, in a graphically legible way and without any additional symbolism. The diplomatic transcription tries to maintain some fidelity to the graphic layout of the original document, reproduced in a facsimile that accompanies each text and complements its reading. In this sense, we have kept all the variants and passages crossed out in the diplomatic transcription, not referring to these elements as notes. Not only does this make the development of projects from one list to another visible, but within the list itself it is often possible to see the substitution of one project for another or the uncertainty maintained in the face of different versions of a given project. Hyperlinks are also included between projects mentioned in lists and their publications in lifetime, whenever there is a clearly identifiable correspondence between a project and its realization in a publication. The following symbology is used in the transcriptions:

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

In a brief note to each document in the collection that has been published before, we refer to its previous publication. The reference is to its oldest publication, except in cases where a more recent publication has significantly improved readability. The notes also refer to elements of the documents' material and content considered for their dating. Material elements considered for dating are the type of font used, handwritten or typed, and the type of support. This includes letterheads, many of which relate to firms Pessoa worked for at certain times, and watermarks on the paper.

The abbreviation "c." ("circa") marks the conjectural nature of the dating, which depends on an interpretation of the elements and an understanding of the work that goes beyond its materiality. Even in cases where an autograph date appears on the document, we cannot be absolutely certain that the document was written on that same date, so in no case is a conjectural dimension absent. In cases of greater doubt, we indicate a time span of two or more years ("c. 1916-1917" or "c. 1918-1920") or indicate that the list belongs to a certain period ("1916-1919" or "1920-1927"). The abbreviations "ant." ("anterior") and "post." ("posterior") indicate that a document was written close to, before or after a certain date.

A search engine makes it easier to search for specific content and provides different ways of accessing the information contained in the texts. Texts can be accessed in different ways: by searching for an author, a document, a publication or a literary genre, or by exploring the indexes of names, titles of works, and periodicals mentioned in the texts.

The history of projects and publications is also that of a dynamic development of writing and its fixation in a publication or through a proposed editorial organization. These different fixations are, although they change over time, punctually significant, contributing to a definition of the work from a point of view that is not only editorial but also poetic and systemic. Tracing the history of Pessoa's projects and publications thus means analyzing a work under construction, but one that alludes to a greater purpose, that of a projected establishment of its meaning as a fully constituted whole.

The aim is to contribute, through an editorial work that does not dispense with a hermeneutic approach, to clarifying fundamental critical issues in Pessoa Studies, such as the discussion around the fragmentary or unitary nature of the work (cf. Coelho 1949, Gusmão 2003, Martins 2003, Sepúlveda 2013, Feijó 2015). The material fragmentariness of some of the texts does not negate the author's intention to go beyond this through a systemic fixation of the work, which, perhaps revealing his permanent dissatisfaction, did not reach a definitive form. This edition shows that Pessoa worked constantly on the organization of his work, as can be seen in the lists of editorial projects gathered and analysed here, in contrast to or in accordance with the publications made during his lifetime. In both types of text we can see how the design of the work depended on the definition of its contents, the establishment of relationships between titles, and the attribution of authorship, expressed in the famous creation of authorial figures, including the one who signs with the poet's own name.

Sepúlveda, Pedro, Ulrike Henny-Krahmer, and Jorge Uribe (eds). Digital Edition of Fernando Pessoa. Projects and Publications . Lisbon and Cologne: IELT, New University of Lisbon and CCeH, University of Cologne 2017-2024. Version A3.0.0-C2.1.0 <http://www.pessoadigital.pt/en/project/about>. DOI: 10.18716/cceh/pessoa.