An implausible encounter and a theatrical suicide - its prologue and aftermath: Fernando Pessoa and Aleister Crowley

Steffen Dix*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In September 1930 a curious, fascinating encounter took place in Lisbon between an occultist with a certain gift for poetry and a poet who was inclined to occultism. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) and Fernando Pessoa were in biographical terms such different personalities that their ever meeting at all might appear, at least at first, almost unimaginable. But in spite of the apparent implausibility, the meeting actually took place: the famous and notorious practitioner of occultist arts came to the rather provincial city of Lisbon in order to visit the completely unknown and shy translator of commercial correspondence. The meeting led to a prank that ended with Crowley's fake suicide stunt in the striking landscape close to the aristocratic seaside resort of Cascais. After spending a sunlit holiday there in the autumn of 1930 in the company of the young and beautiful German artist Hanni Larissa Jaeger, Crowley disappeared on 23 September in a place called the Boca do Inferno [Mouth of Hell]. A couple of weeks later, and after a police investigation that received some international attention, Crowley reappeared alive and well, and up to his old tricks, at the opening of his own art exhibition in Berlin. Crowley's visit to Lisbon and especially its aftermath were certainly seen as a huge private joke by both men, at a time when Pessoa's daily existence was unusually agitated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFernando Pessoa's modernity without frontiers influences, dialogues, responses
EditorsMariana de Gray Castro
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781782041122
ISBN (Print)9781855662568
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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