Tom d’Egidio: The Poet And His Double: Split Personalities, Alternate Identities, and THE PESSOA-BROWNING CONNECTION

Pessoa Lecture Text

The New York Browning Society, Inc. Newsletter
Founded in 1907

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Time 1pm. – Via ZOOM

Tom d’Egidio: The Poet And His Double: Split Personalities, Alternate Identities, and THE PESSOA-BROWNING CONNECTION
(Join Zoom Meeting

Pessoa Lecture Text 
REGISTER and JOIN the Forum Discussion


Welcome one and all to the 114th Season of the New York Browning Society. 2020 has been
an interesting time indeed, as we have seen changes that no doubt have faced our Society
in the past. I hope that this newsletter is being received in good health by all of our
members, and look forward to seeing your bright and smiling faces for our first meeting of
the new season.

As we have undergone new social norms,  we will not be meeting in person as we have in the past for our monthly meetings at the National Arts Club. This is unfortunate, but it offers a grand opportunity to expand our membership, and seek to build a larger audience for all of the illuminating programs that we put together each year. We have designed an entirely new user friendly website, I wish for everyone to peruse and see some of the highlights our Society has offered over the past few seasons. We want to thank Laura Clarke and her husband, Emanuel Bierman for all of their help in continuing to update and upgrade all of our content onto the new website at,


This website will be the new home for the Browning’s and our Society for the near future.
We have linked instructions on how to use Zoom on the front page of the website. In
addition you will find attached the link to the meeting itself.

Hopefully our members who have access to a smart phone, or a computer with internet
access, will be able to download the Zoom client and participate with us for our first virtual
meeting on October 14th. I will be personally reaching out to members who will need
assistance in this regard. I hope we can make this new online meeting as warm and
welcome as we have had in person for 114 years. We will try to make it as painless as
possible! We look forward to our future, with your help and participation!

We have a treat for our opening meeting, let’s get this new season started!
Tom d’Egidio will present: “THE PESSOA-BROWNING CONNECTION.” 

Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa died in obscurity in his native Lisbon in 1935. Yet today he is considered one of the major literary modernists of the 20th century, recently becoming a hot property with a growing list of translators and publishers eager to get their versions of Pessoa into the bookshops.

One reason for Pessoa’s notable appeal is that while living an apparently uneventful bachelor life of shabby respectability, he spawned, in the privacy of his furnished room, an entire crew of alternate poetic personalities, assigning them names, biographies and widely divergent personalities, as well as penning substantial bodies of remarkable work for each one.

Pessoa’s imagining of these personas is so intensely comprehensive, that they even write about and to each other and judge each other’s poetry and character.  Is there any possible explanation for such literary ‘schizophrenia’?

A big chunk of Pessoa’s early life, from 7 to 17 years of age, was spent living in the South African city of Durban where his stepfather served as the Portuguese consul. There the young Pessoa learned English, read the English poets; and his first attempts at poetry were in English.

Poet Tom d’Egidio, acting on a hint from the late great critic Harold Bloom, and with the encouragement and advice of Browning Society member, poet and translator Albert Rosenblatt, explores the intriguing possibility that Pessoa was not only inspired by Robert Browning, but that Andrea del Sarto, Fra Lippo Lippi, and other characters limned by Browning in his dramatic monologues served as specific templates for Pessoa’s alter egos.

Tom has graced us as our opening speaker for the past few seasons, come and enjoy the spooks and chills he brings to this lovely fall with his latest presentation. We look forward
to seeing and hearing you virtually! If you have any additional questions feel free to reach
out to myself at: Cheers!

But what if I fail of my purpose here? It
is but to keep the nerves at strain, to dry
one’s eyes and laugh at a fall, and
baffled, get up and begin again.

                                       -Robert Browning

 James Browning Kepple, President
Robert Kramer, Vice President
Laura Clarke, Corresponding Secretary
Nancy McGraw, Recording Secretary
Gene Bierhorst, Director-at-Large
KT Sullivan, Director-at-Large
Tom D’Egidio, Director-at-Large
H. Robert Griffiths, President Emeritus
Stephen Downey, President Emeritus


Leave a Reply