Two Princes of Melancholy

“Two Princes of Melancholy: Fernando Pessoa and Ludwig of Bavaria.” In Chaos and Splendor by Eduardo Lourenço. (Translator). Dartmouth: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. 2002.


Our relationship with death is a fiction. Death in itself imposes on the word two inexhaustible and symmetrical necessities: silence and the infinite reworking in fiction that takes death as its object. In a strict sense, fiction arises from the impossibility of saying what death “says” or “does not say.” We cannot “speak” of it without turning over the tapestry of life. It is (our) life, read inside out, which fills this lack, this gapin breach in the hollow of existence, “unthinkable” by nature, in every sense of the word. In “Funeral March,” Pessoa offers Ludwig of Bavaria the only crown that cannot be lost: the crown of nothing. An naturally, this dreamed up crown, the most fantastic of all crowns, is made only of golden recollections of life. What is new in this post-Wagnerian evocation of death is the coronation of Ludwig as the emperor of death presented not only as a celebration, but as the supreme celebration. Its form, its rituals, must make of annihilation – or, at least of conceived annihilation – an apotheosis. (from p.94-5)