A Very Original Dinner

A Very Original Dinner

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Author: Fernando Pessoa

Editor: Natalia Jerez Quintero

Publisher: Sublunary Editions (2023)

Herr Prosit, President of the Gastronomical Society in Berlin, has perhaps grown complacent with his elaborately planned banquets and artistically prepared meals. Noticeably lapsed into melancholy as his guests—including five young gastronomers with whom he has developed a bitter rivalry—discuss the decided lack of originality in cooking during a time of a general decline in the arts, Prosit suddenly comes to life, inviting those seated around him to a very original dinner, the likes of which they have never seen. He challenges them to uncover just what makes the dinner so special, a game that soon takes a mysterious and perverse turn.

Clearly under the influence of Edgar Allen Poe and the nascent field of degenerate psychology, "A Very Original Dinner" was written in English by Fernando Pessoa under his proto-heteronym Alexander Search in June of 1907. It was never published during his lifetime, and only came to light in 1978 when photocopies of the typescript were reproduced in Maria Leonor Machado de Sousa’s book Fernando Pessoa e a Literatura de Ficção. The version in this volume first appeared in A Very Original Book, a bilingual collection of Pessoa's writings as Search edited by Natalia Jerez Quintero. This is the story's first appearance in a trade volume in North America.