Friday, February 28, 2003

Literary structures

Mamamusings left me curious about the definition of oulipo, and interestingly Google answered the question when the complete OED (which my university subscribes to) did not. But my reaction to oulipo is to recommend Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), a Portuguese writer who had different identities from which he wrote, sometimes responding to each other. He shows how multiple personalities can be a creative way of making sense of an impossible world.

As a scholar interested in social construction I wonder how Pessoa understand himself. The idea of multiple personality current at the time was a theory of dual personalities, and I haven't yet seen any evidence that Pessoa connected to that. I wonder if there was any folk understanding of such things in Portuguese culture--in the case of another culture I see evidence of such a folk understanding in Edwidge Danticat's, Breath, Eyes, Memory (New York: Vintage Books, 1994). What is clear is that Pessoa used the literary tradition to find a way of understanding himself as a variety of authors.

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