Álvaro de Campos

Álvaro de Campos was born in Tavira on October 15th 1890 at 1.30 pm. 

He had a normal high school education; and was later sent to Scotland to study Engineering, first mechanical, then naval. A holiday trip to the East resulted in the Opiário. An uncle from the Beiras region of Portugal, who was a priest, taught him Latin.

Vaguely Jewish-Portuguese, pale olive skin, straight hair, usually side parted, wore a monocle.

In his letter, source for this text, to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, dated Janeiro 13th 1935, Fernando Pessoa writes on the birth of heteronomy as Campos, «when I felt a sudden impulse to write and didn’t know what of», he then adds «suddenly and moving in opposite direction to Ricardo Reis, a different character impetuously emerged. In a flash, at the typewriter, free of interruption or revision, Alvaro Campos’ "Triumphal Ode" was born — the Ode of this name and the man of the man he was».

A little further he clarifies: «When Orpheu was published, I needed something, at the last minute, to achieve the number of pages. Sá-Carneiro therefore suggested I wrote and “old” poem by Álvaro de Campos written before meeting Caeiro and being influenced by him. I therefore wrote "Opiário", where I tried to apply all of Alvaro de Campos’ latent tendencies by which he would later come to be known for, but omitting any trace of contact from his master Caeiro. It was one of the hardest poems I have ever written, due to the double effort of depersonalization that I had to develop. But, oh well, I think it came out alright, a budding Álvaro…»

Source: Fernando Pessoa’s Letter to Adolfo Casais Monteiro, January 13th 1935, in Correspondência 1923-1935, ed. Manuela Parreira da Silva, Lisbon Assírio & Alvim, 1999.

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