Pessoa’s myth of the King Sebastian reinterpreted

Article Catalan; Valencian OPEN
Monika Świda (2013)
  • Publisher: Adam Mickiewicz University Press
  • Journal: Studia Romanica Posnaniensia (issn: 0137-2475, eissn: 2084-4158)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.14746/strop.2013.401.004
  • Subject: sebastianism | Pessoa | myth | messianism | he Fifth Empire | Romanic languages | PC1-5498 | Philology. Linguistics | P1-1091

The present paper depicts alterations undergone by the sleeping king motif (sebastianism) in the writings of Fernando Pessoa. The data to conduct the study were collected in thematic anthologies and several unpublished pieces. The myth of the King Sebastian was given a congregational dimension by Pessoa, thus conveying his cultural and identity project subsumed under the metaphor of the spiritual empire. Pessoa introduces some readjustments in the way the historical king is to be conceived of. In his theory, Sebastian becomes the figure of the individual effort on the way towards the national renewal. The messianic character of D. Sebastião is defeated in this theory despite having been associated with the figures of either Jesus or the Antichrist. The messiah of the Portuguese foundation myth is replaced with the idea of great man and the task to be carried out in this field, included the metaphor of the Fifth Empire, gains a cultural character. That is why Pessoa’s theories must no longer be interpreted in messianic terms. The Pessoa’s transformations of the sebastianism analyzed in this article are the starting point for the new national narration in the poetic cycle of "Mensagem".
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