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Livro do desassossego (Portuguese Edition) (original 1982; edition 1990)

by Fernando Pessoa

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2,246272,843 (4.37)72
Member:Joanitaster
Title:Livro do desassossego (Portuguese Edition)
Authors:Fernando Pessoa
Info:Editorial Presenca (1990), Edition: 1a. ed, Unknown Binding
Collections:Currently reading
Rating:*****
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The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa (1982)

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The Book of Disquiet should be read slowly and thoughtfully, savored and sipped like fine wine. It’s a groundbreaking work of Modernist experimentation that consists of a collection of writings found on disorganized scraps of paper in a chest found in the author’s home after his death. These scraps were assembled into a book for the first time in the 1960s. Pessoa, who was Portuguese, wrote the segments over the course of the last twenty years of his life, which ended in 1935.

Pessoa invented multiple personas for himself that he called heteronyms, and each of his novels or collections of poetry was written from the perspective of an alter ego. He essentially invented multiple authors and wrote from their perspective. It’s a distinct approach from having a character narrate a novel, especially when it comes to writing a collection of poetry, but even in this “novel” because there is no plot to speak of, only an internal landscape. Pessoa makes no effort to distinguish his own critique of the “author’s opinions,” he merely embodies them. In other words, there is no authorial distance, no “unreliable narrator” theme, there is only the narrator. It is as if Pessoa had a multiple personality disorder in artistic form. The collection of writings in this book are measures of the interior life of one Bernardo Soares, which Pessoa described as being a “mutilated version” of himself, but perhaps the closest to his own beliefs of all his heteronyms. He describes Soares as rather like “himself minus the affection.”

Indeed, Soares comes across as so purely intellectual (although he does have the occasional overwhelming emotional response to small occurrences) that he is rather distant and cold—completely self-absorbed and narcissistic, in fact. Soares lives a life that is almost entirely metaphysical. In one of the 276 segments in the book, he refers to this collection as a “book of disconnected impressions.” Some might say that this isn’t a novel! But in the case of what is important to Soares (or to Pessoa), intellectual thought is apparently the only process that sustains his life. It is the story of his life, which was very little but intellectual.

We get glimpses of this persona at work, as an accountant poring over ledgers (which is what Pessoa did as well), and walking the streets of Lisbon, but for the most part, nothing ever happens. Soares lives a life only in his mind and in his daydreams. He is scared and reluctant to say hello or even shake hands with others. It is too shocking, too much for him. Much like Proust who wrote an entire series of book triggered by the taste of a single Madeleine cookie, Soares believes that an artist must be able to wring the greatest emotional effect out of the smallest incidents. So why write of large incidents when small ones suffice?

What subjects does Soares ponder as we make our way through this book? What is the book about? Walking and weather. Fame and ambition, rain and dreams. Banality, the banality of existence. Change or the lack there of. Dreams, especially dreams. Work. God. Writing and art. Identity and being.

At times he can seem quite humble, or more precisely, assured of his own inadequacy and contemptuous of himself, believing that everything he writes is worthless and a failure, railing at his own—and by proxy, every writers’—inability to truly represent ideas or thoughts in words (this being quite reminiscent of Wittgenstein’s view that language mediates our understanding of reality). Yet other times he can seem utterly arrogant in his narcissism. Other people are merely props for his internal dreams and thinking, and in fact he boldly declares at one point, “… of what importance is to me what life is to other people?” Because, he would say, we can only live life from our own perspective and to attempt “empathy” is a delusion. Other people aren’t even real to any of us—except as dreams.* Sometimes this seems almost Buddhist—we are dreaming life and because all is change, nothing is real and all there is is nothing. “The self is nothing more than all it is thinking in the moment.” Other times, it comes across as clearly Nietzschean, which would seem close to Pessoa's own ideology because he was a royalist of sorts. Soares believes that humans want to be enslaved not free. He has certain fascist tendencies that peek through his primarily apolitical musings. For example, he declares himself both anti-revolutionary and anti-reformist. Much like Nietzsche who sought to create amoral übermen, he is anti-social and believes that pursuing matters of social justice are not only a waste of time, but also a false presumption of pride and ambition in the self, to shape society. Furthermore, such actions support the premise that other people are “real” when in fact they are only dreams.** And then on the flipside of this, humans are unimportant and vulgar animals anyway: "Life disgusts me."

When he talks about work, he seems to say that work (not artist work, but paid commercial work) is an opportunity to become nothing—a mere tool, a non-thing—and to Soares, this is good, this is the enslavement that people want. The more the self can vanish as meaningless, the better. He criticizes ambition to “do something better” as pure vanity.

How can I give this book four stars when there are such disagreeable elements? Well, firstly, one doesn’t have to agree with everything in a book philosophically to find it a great book. Sometimes, finding a point of view that one can disagree with is just as valuable. And secondarily, he spends most of the book pondering apolitical questions of the nature of perception, emotion, and identity revealing brilliant bon mots that remind me of Montaigne such as, “There is nothing that shows poverty of mind more quickly than not knowing how to be witty except at the expense of others.” Admittedly, I did feel at times as though I were slogging through an ambiguous fog that didn’t quite make sense, but then I would come to a burst of insight like a spotlight that illuminates the way. In the end, these insights (whether they be about life in general, or whether they gave me insights into certain types of people with tendencies like the narrator), were often profound enough to elevate this book to quite a high status.

All in all, this book will only appeal to those readers comfortable with deep thoughts lacking a plot, and willing to persevere, but the rewards can be great.

*I counter this by noting that if everything is a dream and everyone is a dream then all that matters is dreams and empathy for dreams is just as valid as non-empathy for dreams.

**It’s important to recognize that someone is always shaping society—those who are already in power. Therefore, in fact, passively supporting the status quo is just as much a political action as resisting the status quo. It’s merely the path of least resistance…that is, until your freedom or means of self-survival are stake. ( )
  David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
The Book of Disquiet should be read slowly and thoughtfully, savored and sipped like fine wine. It’s a groundbreaking work of Modernist experimentation that consists of a collection of writings found on disorganized scraps of paper in a chest found in the author’s home after his death. These scraps were assembled into a book for the first time in the 1960s. Pessoa, who was Portuguese, wrote the segments over the course of the last twenty years of his life, which ended in 1935.

Pessoa invented multiple personas for himself that he called heteronyms, and each of his novels or collections of poetry was written from the perspective of an alter ego. He essentially invented multiple authors and wrote from their perspective. It’s a distinct approach from having a character narrate a novel, especially when it comes to writing a collection of poetry, but even in this “novel” because there is no plot to speak of, only an internal landscape. Pessoa makes no effort to distinguish his own critique of the “author’s opinions,” he merely embodies them. In other words, there is no authorial distance, no “unreliable narrator” theme, there is only the narrator. It is as if Pessoa had a multiple personality disorder in artistic form. The collection of writings in this book are measures of the interior life of one Bernardo Soares, which Pessoa described as being a “mutilated version” of himself, but perhaps the closest to his own beliefs of all his heteronyms. He describes Soares as rather like “himself minus the affection.”

Indeed, Soares comes across as so purely intellectual (although he does have the occasional overwhelming emotional response to small occurrences) that he is rather distant and cold—completely self-absorbed and narcissistic, in fact. Soares lives a life that is almost entirely metaphysical. In one of the 276 segments in the book, he refers to this collection as a “book of disconnected impressions.” Some might say that this isn’t a novel! But in the case of what is important to Soares (or to Pessoa), intellectual thought is apparently the only process that sustains his life. It is the story of his life, which was very little but intellectual.

We get glimpses of this persona at work, as an accountant poring over ledgers (which is what Pessoa did as well), and walking the streets of Lisbon, but for the most part, nothing ever happens. Soares lives a life only in his mind and in his daydreams. He is scared and reluctant to say hello or even shake hands with others. It is too shocking, too much for him. Much like Proust who wrote an entire series of book triggered by the taste of a single Madeleine cookie, Soares believes that an artist must be able to wring the greatest emotional effect out of the smallest incidents. So why write of large incidents when small ones suffice?

What subjects does Soares ponder as we make our way through this book? What is the book about? Walking and weather. Fame and ambition, rain and dreams. Banality, the banality of existence. Change or the lack there of. Dreams, especially dreams. Work. God. Writing and art. Identity and being.

At times he can seem quite humble, or more precisely, assured of his own inadequacy and contemptuous of himself, believing that everything he writes is worthless and a failure, railing at his own—and by proxy, every writers’—inability to truly represent ideas or thoughts in words (this being quite reminiscent of Wittgenstein’s view that language mediates our understanding of reality). Yet other times he can seem utterly arrogant in his narcissism. Other people are merely props for his internal dreams and thinking, and in fact he boldly declares at one point, “… of what importance is to me what life is to other people?” Because, he would say, we can only live life from our own perspective and to attempt “empathy” is a delusion. Other people aren’t even real to any of us—except as dreams.* Sometimes this seems almost Buddhist—we are dreaming life and because all is change, nothing is real and all there is is nothing. “The self is nothing more than all it is thinking in the moment.” Other times, it comes across as clearly Nietzschean, which would seem close to Pessoa's own ideology because he was a royalist of sorts. Soares believes that humans want to be enslaved not free. He has certain fascist tendencies that peek through his primarily apolitical musings. For example, he declares himself both anti-revolutionary and anti-reformist. Much like Nietzsche who sought to create amoral übermen, he is anti-social and believes that pursuing matters of social justice are not only a waste of time, but also a false presumption of pride and ambition in the self, to shape society. Furthermore, such actions support the premise that other people are “real” when in fact they are only dreams.** And then on the flipside of this, humans are unimportant and vulgar animals anyway: "Life disgusts me."

When he talks about work, he seems to say that work (not artist work, but paid commercial work) is an opportunity to become nothing—a mere tool, a non-thing—and to Soares, this is good, this is the enslavement that people want. The more the self can vanish as meaningless, the better. He criticizes ambition to “do something better” as pure vanity.

How can I give this book four stars when there are such disagreeable elements? Well, firstly, one doesn’t have to agree with everything in a book philosophically to find it a great book. Sometimes, finding a point of view that one can disagree with is just as valuable. And secondarily, he spends most of the book pondering apolitical questions on the nature of perception, emotion, and identity revealing brilliant bon mots that remind me of Montaigne such as, “There is nothing that shows poverty of mind more quickly than not knowing how to be witty except at the expense of others.” Admittedly, I did feel at times as though I were slogging through an ambiguous fog that didn’t quite make sense, but then I would come to a burst of insight like a spotlight that illuminates the way. In the end, these insights (whether they be about life in general, or whether they gave me insights into certain types of people with tendencies like the narrator), were often profound enough to elevate this book to quite a high status.

All in all, this book will only appeal to those readers comfortable with deep thoughts lacking a plot, and willing to persevere, but the rewards can be great.

*I counter this by noting that if everything is a dream and everyone is a dream then all that matters is dreams and empathy for dreams is just as valid as non-empathy for dreams.

**It’s important to recognize that someone is always shaping society—those who are already in power. Therefore, in fact, passively supporting the status quo is just as much a political action as resisting the status quo. It’s merely the path of least resistance…that is, until your freedom or means of survival are stake. ( )
  David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
Pessoa, acest Cioran moderat şi cuminte al Portugaliei. Mi-a părut bine de cunoştinţă! ( )
  mariusgm | Aug 25, 2013 |
It might be possible that there is no book as profound, poetic, insightful, intelligent, and moving as this one. Pessoa's exploration of the human consciousness and all of the dilemmas of life are presented as an enchanting yet turbulent sort of dream which mesmerizes in a way few authors have destined to do. Kundera and Hesse have some elements of this in their writing but it isn't quite the same. The reader becomes quite immersed in the Disquietude stream of thoughts that our protagonist shares with us and that is the driving force unlike no other.


I am so enamored with this novel, so deeply moved by the rich and wondrous words that I have started a twitter account devoted to just my favorite quotes from the text, because I believe this novel is so completely filled with exceptional insight that one should examine and ponder before devouring it whole.

https://twitter.com/Disquietudes

Here are some of my favorite quotes as of 11/15/2012:


Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life. Could it think, the heart would stop beating

I see life as a roadside inn where I have to wait around until the stagecoach from the abyss pulls up.

There's an equal (since abstract) destiny for men and for things-an equally indifferent designation in the algebra of the mysterious.

The consciousness of life's unconsciousness is the oldest tax levied on the intelligence.



It was an occasion to be happy. But something weighed on me, some inscrutable yearning, an undefined but not contemptible desire...

...Perhaps it was just taking me a long time to feel alive.


Scruples of the moment in no way oppress or persist in me. I crave time's continuance and long to be myself unconditionally.


Perhaps it's time to finally take a look at my life. I see myself in the midst of a vast desert. I speak of what yesterday I literally was, and I try to explain to myself how it is I got here.

If I had the world in my hand, I'm quite sure I'd trade it for a ticket to Douradores Street.

The sleight of words in isolation, or grouped by how they sound, with intimate resonances and divergent meanings even as they converge, the splendor of phrases inserted between the meanings of others...

Absurdity. To become like sphinxes, even if false ones, until we reach the point of no longer knowing who we are. For we are, in fact, false sphinxes, and we don't know what we really are.


** The only way to be in harmony with with life is to be in disharmony with ourselves. Absurdity is divine.

Camaraderie has its subtleties.

Some govern the world, others are the world.

She holds Spring against her breast and stares at me with sad eyes.

In human eyes, even in lithographic ones, there's something terrible: the inevitable waning of consciousness, the clandestine shout of having a soul

To give each emotion a personality, a heart to each state of the heart.



To express something is to conserve its virtue and take away its terror.

To act is to live, to be expressed is to endure. There's nothing in life that's less real for having been well described.

The grand weathered panorama of History, as I see it, is no more than a flow of interpretations, a confused consensus of distracted testimonies. The novelist is all of us and we narrate whatever we see, because seeing is complex, like everything!

A breath of music or of a dream, of something that would make me almost feel, something that would make me not think.

I lie alone in the darkness, made even lonelier by the hazy moonlight that muffles the silence of my strange body. I'm so sleepy that I can't even think, so sleepless that I can't even feel."


Everything around me is the naked, abstract universe, made of nocturnal negations.

To cease, to end at last, surviving only as a metaphor...

In the other direction, behind where I'm lying down, the silence of the house touches infinity.


___

My physical heart is physically oppressed by the memory of what it or I was, reduced to nothing.

I feel my head physically supported by the pillow in which it makes a valley. The skin of the pillowcase has a contact with my skin like that of people in the dark.

Even the ear on which I rest mathematically engraves itself on my brain.

I blink with fatigue, and my eyelashes make an infinitesimal, inaudible sound against the sensitive whiteness of the pillow's slope.

_

I breathe, sighing, and my breathing happens-it's not mine. I suffer unfeelingly, unthinkingly.

The house's clock. a definite location in the midst of the infinite, strikes the half hour, dry and void. Everything is so full, so deep, so black, and so cold.

Everything was sleeping as if the universe was a mistake...

Then the night closed like a trap door, and an enormous calm made it seem a pity not to have been sleeping.

We're all slaves of external circumstances.

...as my hand shuts the ledger it also pulls a veil over my irretrievable past; that I go to life's bed wide awake, unaccompanied and without peace, in the ebb and flow of my jumbled consciousness, like two ties in the black night, at the end of the destinies of nostalgia and desolation

Sometimes I think I'll never leave Douradores Street. And having written this, it seems to me eternity.

To go from the phantoms of faith to the ghosts of reason is merely to change cells.


And in light of the supreme reality of my soul, all that is useful and eternal tastes frivolous and trivial next to the pure and sovereign splendour of my vivid and frequent dreams. These, for me, are more real.

...and everything transforms into a night of rain and mud, lost in the solitude of a wayside station, between two third-class trains.

I behold all the solutions offered by the imagination's female side: flight, suicide, renunciation, the lofty gestures of our individuality's aristocratic sensibility, the swashbuckling novel of existences without balconies.

But the ideal Juliet of the best possible reality closed the high window of the literary encounter of the fictitious Romeo of my blood.

...automatically avoiding the puddles of cold rain, and with a bit of mixed concern, for having once again forgotten my umbrella and the dignity of my soul.

An object cast into a corner, a rag fallen onto the road, my ignoble being feigns to the world.

I lift my head up from my anonymous life to the clear recognition of the nature of my existence. And I see that everything I've done, thought, or been is a species of delusion or madness.

I observe with metaphysical astonishment how all my most deliberate acts, my clearest ideas and my most logical intentions were after all no more than congenital drunkenness, innate madness, and huge ignorance.

I'm an abruptly solitary man who finds himself exiled where he'd always considered himself a citizen,. At the heart of my thoughts, I wasn't I.

And so I'm accosted by a sarcastic fear of life, a despondency that exceeds the limits of my conscious individuality. I know that I was an error and was errant, that I never lived, that I existed only because I filled time with consciousness and thought.

It's so hard to describe what I feel when I feel that I really exist and that my soul is a real entity, for I don't know what human words could define it.

But an abrupt light singes and consumes everything. Stripping us naked of even ourselves.



000


It was just a moment, and I saw myself. Now I can't even say what I was.

Someone went away and didn't need to take the one and only outfit he'd worn.


I realize that, while often happy and often cheerful, I'm always sad.

"...to repudiate all homes, even those that weren't ours...to be something, anything, that doesn't feel the weight of the rain outside, nor the anguish of inner emptiness...

To wander without thought or soul-sensation without sensation-along mountain roads and through valleys submerged between steep slopes...

To wander far away, immersed and doomed...To be lost in landscapes as in paintings...Not to consist of depth and colour...

14 March 1930 Silence emerges from the sound of the rain and spreads in a crescendo of grey monotony over the narrow street which I contemplate.

A light breath of wind, which from behind the window I don't feel, rips the rectilinear fall of rain into aerial deflections.

We should wash our destiny the way we wash our body, and change our lives the way we change clothes-not to preserve life...but out of objective respect for ourselves


There's a fatigue of the abstract intelligence and it's the worst of fatigues.

To live this far from emotions and thought, living it only in the thought of emotions and in the emotion of thoughts.

And behind the collapse, the black and implacable solitude of the starry desert sky emerges purely.

And the vague moonlight, entirely mine, begins to mar with vagueness the blackish blue horizon.

Everything gets entangled and miserably looms in the sad disarray of my confused sensations.

To understand, I destroyed myself.

Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me.

A sadness at twilight, composed of fatigue and false renunciations, a tedium.

*The mere idea of being obliged to enter into contact with someone else weighs heavy on me.

I feel an urge to raise my arms and shout wild and strange things, to speak to the lofty mysteries, to affirm a new and broad personality to the huge expanses of empty matter.

I'm the size of what I see! Each time I think on this phrase with all my nerves, the more it seems destined o cosmically reconstruct the universe.

*Around me the dark countryside is a huge lack of sound that almost smells pleasant.

The peace of everything aches and oppresses.

Sitting next to the window, I behold with my senses all this nothingness of the universal life outside.

I have no use for motor vehicles.

Civilization is an education in nature.

The desolation is that of a lifeless grey sky, here and there crumpled in clouds of a darker shade.


No one arrives here, nor will they ever arrive. Even if I go backwards in time and space, fleeing the world for that landscape, I could never arrive there.





( )
1 vote kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
Livro em fragmentos, autobiografia sem fatos, escrito pelo semi-heterônimo Bernardo Soares.

Um dos livros mais interessantes da língua portuguesa - para dizer o mínimo. Aliás, cada brasileiro com síndrome de vira-lata que diz que português é uma língua feia, difícil, que estrangeiros não tem motivo algum para aprender, devia receber gratuitamente uma cópia. O nome já é um motivo pra aprender português. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Pessoa was mostly a poet and The Book of Disquiet can be read, if you wish, as a series of notes for poems as yet unwritten; or prose poems, of a kind, themselves. If all this sounds rather vague then that is because Pessoa wished it so. To read and then contemplate him is to be lifted a little bit above the earth in a floating bubble. One becomes both of the world and not of it. There's no one like him, apart from all of us.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Guardian, Nicholas Lezard (May 22, 2010)
 
Here in the famously striving city I’d been infected by a book whose credo, if it has one, is that “Inaction is our consolation for everything, not acting our one great provider.” ... Reading a page or two a day, I would find myself curiously preoccupied along certain lines for a week or more—weird: in the sunlight I’d been thinking constantly of rain—and then the topic would change and, like a spell of weather, move on.
 

» Add other authors (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fernando Pessoaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adam, Alfred J. MacTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crespo, AngelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laye, FrançoiseTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
I'm writing to you out of sentimental necessity - I have an anguished, painful need to speak with you. It's easy to see that I have nothing to tell you. Just this: that I find myself today at the bottom of a bottomless depression. The absurdity of the sentence speaks for me.
I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it—without knowing why. (Penguin Classics ed., trans. Zenith, skipping the Preface.)
Quotations
To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141183047, Paperback)

Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology. and horoscope. When he died in 935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, an astonishing work that, in George Steiner's words, "gives to Lisbon the haunting spell of Joyce's Dublin or Kafka's Prague."

Published for the first time some fifty years after his death, this unique collection of short, aphoristic paragraphs comprises the "autobiography" of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa's alternate selves. Part intimate diary, part prose poetry, part descriptive narrative, captivatingly translated by Richard Zenith, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:35 -0400)

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