FERNANDO PESSOA was born in Lisbon in 1888. As a young man, he dropped out of university and made his living by translating, writing in avant-garde reviews, and drafting business letters in English and French. He began publishing criticism in 1912, creative prose in 1913, and poetry in 1914. He published his works under a variety of alter egos he called heteronyms—Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and Álvaro de Campos, and nearly seventy others. He died in Lisbon, in 1935.

"The mask of innocence which Pessoa turns to us is not that of wisdom: to be wise is to resign ourself to the knowledge that we are not innocent. Pessoa, who did know it, was nearer to wisdom."—Octavio Paz