Review: Joy Williams on Fernando Pessoa, et …

“I’m beginning to know myself,” Fernando Pessoa wrote. “I don’t exist.” Or perhaps it was one of his “heteronyms” who said this. There were at least seventy-two of them. A heteronym is not a pseudonym. A pseudonym is a fictitious name a writer composes under. A heteronym, in its literary meaning, is a character created by a writer to write in a different style. Pessoa broke this down further with his “semi-heteronyms” and “orthonyms,” an orthonym being the real name of a person who uses a pseudonym. For example,

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