A Confederation of Souls

“[T]o believe in a “self” as a distinct entity, quite distinct from the infinite variety of all the other “selves” that we have within us, is a fallacy, the naïve illusion of the single unique soul we inherit from Christian tradition, whereas Dr. Ribot and Dr. Janet see the personality as a confederation of numerous souls, because within us we each have numerous souls, don’t you think, a confederation which agrees to put itself under the government of one ruling ego… What we think of as ourselves, our inward being, is only an effect, not a cause, and what’s more it is subject to the control of a ruling ego which has imposed its will on the confederation of souls, so in the case of another alter ego arising, one stronger and more powerful, this ego overthrows the first ruling ego, takes its place and acquires the chieftainship of the cohort of souls…”

Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Maintains (trans. Patrick Creagh), Canongate Books, 2010

More commonly titled Pereira Declares, this edition has patiently awaited my attention for some years, inspired, I think, by an exchange with Stephen Mitchelmore.

4 thoughts on “A Confederation of Souls

  1. Lisbon’s a favourite city, though I haven’t been for many years. I see, like me, you struggled with that Pessoa. I will get around to finishing it one day, perhaps next time I go to Lisbon.

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