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The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet (1982)

by Fernando Pessoa

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Há semanas que adio escrever sobre este livro. Que livro é este? Livro do Desassossego, inacabado, não publicado, amontoado de papéis que fazem o sentido que fazem, mesmo quando não fazem sentido. No desassossego de ler o desassossego de Pessoa, são tantas as impressões, tantas as contradições, tantos os princípios, esboços, retalhos que, no final, sobra o quê? Desassossego.

Lido uma vez, ao fechar a última página (qualquer que seja), descobre-se que o livro uma vez aberto jamais pode ser fechado. Do desassossego de ler, o desassossego de ali ter de retornar.

Há semanas que adio escrever sobre este livro. Mais semanas adiarei, até quando tiver novamente lido—se bem lido algum dia ficar. Agora sou também eu desassossego. ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |
Beautiful and tragic, but also kind of boring and very very depressing.

This book made me feel things I didn't want to feel, if that's your cup of tea give it a read. ( )
  atomoton | Apr 25, 2018 |
How to even begin to review or give a rating to what, at least in my reading experience, is a unique book. This is a completely inward chronicle of a man obsessed by the world of his dreams and thoughts, and convinced that they are at least as true, and almost certainly better, than the real world. In the right mood, reading the short passages is a transformative, hypnotic experience. Some of the thoughts are brilliant and will stick with you. Some are not so lucid. A few are truly funny. I should have read this book with a highlighter in hand and would do so if I every choose to re-read it. Or maybe it is better to just dip into it at random, since it has a somewhat random order to begin with, having been assembled from a lot of pieces left in an envelope....

The problem, however, is that the author tends to repeat himself or approach the same idea from slightly different directions. Sometimes this yields a memorable passage; sometimes it is just tedious. Or maybe it just depends on the reader's state of mind at the time. If you are a confirmed introvert, this book could certainly serve as a self-justification. It is important, however, to separate the narrator of the book from its author (or authors, since Pessoa had several alter-egos and at least two of them were assigned authorship at one point or another.) It is best to think of this (at least I think...) as a book about the power of the mind, and the overriding importance of perception. The narrator, a bookkeeper in a Lisbon office, who hardly goes anywhere, lives in a world that is immense, perhaps infinite, and seems to have little need for the actual physical world or human companionship. Or maybe he is just fooling himself and overcompensating--making up, in the only way he can, for a personality defect that isolates him from reality.

By all means, take a chance on this one. The editor/translator has done an amazing job given the raw material, and if you read through the introduction (I suggest re-reading it after you have finished), you'll have more insight into the life and state of mind of the man who left us this unique monument to solipsism. ( )
2 vote datrappert | Sep 7, 2017 |
E' un libro che pur essendo incompleto è perfetto. Come si faccia a distillare la bile nera e trasmutarla in inchiostro adoperando una appropriatezza di linguaggio che solo il distacco più asettico può permettere per me E' UN MISTERO. SUCCULENTISSIMO LIBRO PER LETTORI LIBIDINOSI ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
You'll admit I'm sure that many do indeed adopt nihilism/inner 'emptiness'/void gazing/ennui -- Motorcycle Emptiness for short -- as a social pose, as a way of attracting chums, sexual and otherwise. And this will of course continue no matter how many read Wallace or Lee Rourke or this here little chat.

So what I'm really driving at is this: what's the point -- literally; I'd really like to know -- of fiction (or art of any kind) that gazes into the void *and then keeps gazing*? Of what use is void-gazing writing to some impressionable victims? Let's not forget that Nietzsche is *not* recommending an overlong gaze into the abyss ('lest it also gaze into you'). And let's never forget that although Hamlet may peak with 'To be or not to be...' it does not *end* there.

Pessoa had a grand old time. Got through a bottle of wine most evenings, had a cushy civil service job where he was allowed to spend most of the time working on his private projects. He was friends with Aleister Crowley and I can only speculate about what they must have got up to. Honestly, we're talking about one of the world's great artists here! Too few know him outside of the Lusophone world. Surely after 100 years or so we can ready him safely enough.

It is not the glamour of ennui/emptiness that interests me; so the tears I find beautiful are those tears that Pessoa wrote onto the page - and those that were left behind in his trunk - and those he chose to ignore. I am interested in the beauty he saw in his mundane life. I am interested Pessoa's own intellectual sadness, yes. Not the actuality of it. How could anyone find despair beautiful?

Now, the 'meaninglessness' in Literature that interests me is something special: those voids, facades, created by the author. The fact that everything is lost; Blanchot hammering home the truism that once a writer has put pen to paper s/he has failed. Pessoa seemed, to me at least, fully aware that the very act of writing (not what is written) is meaningless, an illusion - hence his multitudinous personalities. For me the beauty I find in writing isn't necessarily what I read on the page, it's everything that is left, consciously or unconsciously, behind. For me the truth is never written. Nor can it ever be. Isn't that the epitome of all that is beautiful in Literature, yes?

I really don't think Pessoa is deconstructing Literature, although I feel he's revealing its translucency via playing with it's assumed rules, but it's a thorny one; on one level I'd argue that a writer is responsible only to themselves; however, I'd also argue that that self is the whole person, an adult with a full range of responsibility in the world. As such, the artist (writer) is responsible for looking squarely at the world and at their own responses to that world and for then making art that is true to what they see and that interrogates their responses. Not art that is hip, or art that will please an imagined readership, but art that is, on some fundamental level, true. The big problem is when a specific "stance" towards the world comes to be seen as the sole valid "artistic" position; when the would-be writer insists on being true to their idea of what art "should" be rather than accepting the responsibility. Worse still, they may decide that the stance they have adopted (which is, in effect, how they have chosen to respond to the world) is beyond question *because* it is "artistic".

So, the artist (writer) is responsible to her/him self only, but the whole self, the person who has friends and family who the would like to be happy, who requires clean air and wholesome food and a roof over their head, who has responsibilities to themselves and others, and who is always open to the notion that they could be wrong. Art (writing) that lives up to this responsibility (as opposed to looking for an audience or trying to be hip, for instance) is what I believe in.

Bottom-line: Pessoa wrote for himself, and, yes, heteronyms are irresponsible and lead to madness. Where's Ovid and Yeats by the way? ( )
1 vote antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
In addition to the size and the disorder of the Pessoa archive, there is another confounding level of complexity: it is, in a sense, the work of many writers. In his manuscripts, and even in personal correspondence, Pessoa attributed much of his best writing to various fictional alter egos, which he called “heteronyms.” Scholars have tabulated as many as seventy-two of these. His love of invented names began early: at the age of six, he wrote letters under the French name Chevalier de Pas, and soon moved on to English personae such as Alexander Search and Charles Robert Anon. But the major heteronyms he used in his mature work were more than jokey code names. They were fully fledged characters, endowed with their own biographies, philosophies, and literary styles. Pessoa even imagined encounters among them, and allowed them to comment on one another’s work. If he was empty, as he liked to claim, it was not the emptiness of a void but of a stage, where these selves could meet and interact.
added by elenchus | editThe New Yorker, Adam Kirsch (Sep 4, 2017)
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 (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pessoa, Fernandoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adam, Alfred J. MacTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crespo, ÁngelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laye, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pernu, SannaTranslatorsecondary 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.)
To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
"Il libro di Soares è certamente un romanzo. O meglio, è un romanzo doppio, perché Pessoa ha inventato un personaggio di nome Bemardo Soares e gli ha delegato il compito di scrivere un diario. Soares è cioè un personaggio di finzione che adopera la sottile finzione letteraria dell'autobiografia. In questa autobiografia senza fatti di un personaggio inesistente consiste l'unica grande opera narrativa che Pessoa ci abbia lasciato: il suo romanzo."
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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