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The rise of Mr Person

Portugal is the theme of this year's Frankfurt book fair but it has produced few writers of significance. C A R Hills explains how the work of Fernando Pessoa has sparked a Portuguese renaissance

By CAR Hills   October 1997

Portuguese is one of the great languages of the world. From its small country of origin, it has spread through half the South American continent. It is also widely spoken in Africa, and was formerly a lingua franca in Asia. As we approach the millennium, it has almost 200m native speakers. Because of the growing population of Brazil, it has a potential for expansion shared by no other languages save Spanish and English.

But this hold on the world has not been matched by a corresponding literary or cultural impact. “The Portuguese language is the graveyard of thought,” wrote the…

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