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This review is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

PESSOA'S 'MASTER' Fernando Pessoa, The Keeper of Sheep, translated by Edwin Honig and Susan M. Brown (The Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.), $9.50 pb.

This first complete translation of The Keeper of Sheep is a most welcome addition to the available stock of English versions of Fernando Pessoa. It seems apt that it should be the poems which Pessoa gave to 'Alberto Caeiro' that have been honoured in this way, since it was to all intents and purposes by writing as Caeiro that Pessoa generated his other principal 'heteronyms' and even the work - ultimus inter pares, as it were - to which he was to grant his own name. Yet, as Honig and Brown remind us, the appearance of the figure Pessoa called 'my master', on what he thought of as 'the triumphant day of my life' - 8 March 1914 - was in fact more gradual than his excitement, then and thereafter, permitted him to acknowledge, as manuscript discoveries have since shown. The insouciance with which Caeiro offers his 'non-philosophy', the pellucid clarity of his language, indeed his very fluency - qualities much clearer now that we have access to the complete Keeper of Sheep - ought perhaps to have put us on our guard earlier, and encouraged us to treat Pessoa's account with something of the scepticism found in almost every one of the forty-nine (which could never, one feels, properly have been fifty) poems in the sequence.
As early as 1910, aged twenty-two, Pessoa had jotted down a note (in the English he had learnt at school in Durban) which prefigures Caeiro's ecstatic surrender of himself ...

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