Monday, January 5, 2009

Lisbon's Bid for Literary Fame Starts and Ends with Pessoa

Lisbon wrapped up its year-long tribute to the poet Fernando Pessoa in the hope that he will become symbolic with the city, much in the way James Joyce is with Dublin. They’ve even erected a new bronze statue of Pessoa sitting at his favorite sidewalk cafĂ©, the Brasileira in Chiado Square.

Dublin, mind you, if far ahead in the head-count, with statues of Joyce, as well as Oscar Wilde and the poet Patrick Kavanagh. (Which I once hit squarely in the had with an egg while walking the other side of the canal on which the statue sits in permanent contemplation – something I attribute to having played American baseball.)

A couple interesting facts to note about Pessoa, who died of tuberculosis at age 47: He spent nine years of his childhood in South Africa and once wrote an advertising slogan for Coca-Cola.

Were anyone you know planning a trip to Lisbon, I would highly recommend that put the Bertrand bookstore on their agenda. Founded in 1732, it is among the oldest continually operating stores in the country.

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