Livro do Desassossego por Bernardo Soares PDF æ Livro

Livro do Desassossego por Bernardo Soares PDF æ Livro

10 thoughts on “Livro do Desassossego por Bernardo Soares

  1. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    Here is the only Portuguese literary joke I know: Q. Who are the four greatest Portuguese poets of the 20th century? A. Fernando Pessoa. Trust me, it's funny. But it does take a little explaining.

    Fernando Pessoa, in order to express various philosophical and poetic moods, constructed a series of what he termed “heteronyms.” The heteronym, although similar to the mask or persona, differs in that each one is equipped with a name, a personality, a biography, and a physical description, as well as a distinct writing style. Although Pessoa made use of more than five dozen heteronyms in the course of his thirty-five years, the best known are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, and Bernardo Soares. Of these four, his greatest creation--and perhaps the heteronym closest to Pessoa's self--is Bernardo Soares, the author of The Book of Disquiet.

    The Book of Disquiet, if not unique, is close to it. It is a little like a novel, often like a collection of prose poems, and often like a series of aphorisms and philosophical reflections. The heteryonum that is Soares enables Pessoa to communicate a disciplined, definite vision of the world, necessarily limited in scope, but intensified and concentrated. In this sense, it resembles Roman and English satire, its authorial mask as carefully crafted and resonant as those of Horace and Juvenal, Pope and Swift. Soares, however, takes no interest in vice, let alone the reform of humankind; in fact, he seems to care little about humanity in general, or people in particular.

    It is here that the novelistic aspect of this work becomes interesting. Soares is a shy, isolated man, a clerk at a Lisbon commercial firm who adds up columns of figures, and seems to do little else. Although he mourns his colleagues when they pass away, he never seems to communicate with them when they are alive; the closest he seems to get to fellowship are his encounters with the waiter in the little cafe where he eats his nightly dinner and consumes his nightly bottle of wine. At first, we feel sorry for him, for we feel his great isolation and are moved by his great passion and profound love for beauty which he can only express through his journal.

    Slowly, however, we begin to see that this isolation is a personal and artistic choice, a way of refining his art and his being . If he cares about human beings at all, it is only because they are useful adjuncts to his own magnificent loneliness, because they resonate as discrete elements of the poet's imagination, much as a certain play of light on a Lisbon street may reflect one particular color of the canvas that is the poet's consciousness. Perhaps this is why the book “The Book of Disquiet” reminds me of most is The Chants of Maldoror, that uncompromising paean to the magnificent isolation of evil.

    There is of course a great difference. Maldoror could only have been produced by a very young man hiding beneath a very old mask. His persona is a posture of isolation through which he begins to know himself. The Book of Disquiet, on the other hand, is the work of someone who knows himself well, and cares only about reaching a kind of existential purity: a clarity of view, a refinement of mood, the isolation of particular beauties that resonate more deeply and linger longer than the others.

    Soares is a monk of the poetic mind, for whom aloneness is a vocation. Its fruit, this memorable book, is rare and delicious, filled with vivid descriptions, evocative language, and refined reflections.

  2. Szplug Szplug says:

    Humans are social beings, to the extent that those who prefer solitude to the company of others are usually perceived as troubled individuals, outside of the norm; it took me a long time to feel comfortable with being alone, with dampening the guilt that flared up in me every time I begged off going out with a group of friends. It is always a welcome reinforcement when I come across a book penned by a fellow recluse—and The Book of Disquiet could be a solitary soul's bible, so powerfully does it speak in the language of single-place table settings, corner-chair cobwebs and bachelor apartments. It has achieved pride of place on my bedside stack, where I can ladle myself servings of Pessoa's wisdom at leisure.

    This book's voluntarily alone author is Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet, writer, and polylinguist who invented fully-fleshed out heteronyms—distinct and separate personalties of differing nationality and gender—in order to pursue his writing in various idiosyncratic shades and styles. The Book of Disquiet is a collection of the aphoristic prose-poetry musings of one such heteronym, that of Bernardo Soares, assembled from notes, entries, and jottings made over a span of some thirty years and left unpublished at the time of Pessoa's death in 1935. Richard Zenith, the editor and translator of this stunning, haunting, and achingly beautiful paean to the imaginary potentiality of man, has compiled the definitive edition of this tome in a truly outstanding translation that captures the expressive eloquence of Pessoa and his magical, metaphorically rich manner of constructing word images to portray his unique way of life.

    There is no finer encomium to the shattering melancholy and bracing affirmation of loneliness and solitude than the five hundred plus entries that make up The Book of Disquiet; and few better descriptions of existential nausea, of the desperate efforts to perceive a reason to continue with the painful disappointments, shadow terrors, and numbing meaninglessness of human existence. As Pessoa—writing as Soares—quietly and unassumingly goes about his daily rituals of walking, working as a book-keeper and inhabiting the well-trod spaces of his rented room in the real world, he is living a rich existence within the wildly creative contours of his mind: as a knight errant, a rich merchant, a pirate, a voyager, a lover of countless women, a guide to the cosmos, an inhaler of sunrises and embracer of sunsets, the guiding hand of every drop of Lisbon's morning showers, the leaves shaken by a sudden burst of wind. Having been sentenced to a term of life by an errant universe, Pessoa decided to renounce action and ambitions in what we hold to be real life to pursue a variegated and abundant existence within the realm of dreams. As our life is measured through the archived clippings of one's memory, whether one actually performed the deeds recalled matters less than the detail and substance they contain.

    Such, at least, is the defense offered by Pessoa; yet often his solipsistic persuasions are contradictory, defensive; and when the mask slips we can see the depth of pain and loneliness underneath the placid surface of his imaginary life. There is much repetition and mulling over of themes from different angles, but the writing is so expressive and raw and honest that, to myself at least, it never becomes tedious—even as the tedium of existence, the stretching of the soul on the rack of time, is one of the principal ideas that populate Pessoa's thoughts and entries. It is as if tedium was experienced as a box of chocolates, each colour and coating, each form and flavour, each taste and texture, mulled over, pondered, drawn out and examined, and then set to paper as a running record to remind of an eccentric daily pleasure.

    This is a book to be mused upon and savored, one that can be imbibed in different ways: it can be read straight through—the way I approached it, drawn into a white heat of blistered enthrallment—or sparingly sampled over weeks, months, even years. The order the aphorisms are assembled in is purely a construction of Zenith; he stresses such in his introduction and encourages each reader to create their own sequence for the collected entries. However the reader decides to approach The Book of Disquiet, they will be rewarded with the inventive honesty of a hale and wounded man from a work that is truly sui generis.


    I've recently picked up the Serpent's Tail Extraordinary Classic edition, which features a translation by Margaret Jull Costa, who performed similar duties for José Saramago's last half-dozen books. Distinct from Zenith, obviously, but just as potent and powerful—and the differently parsed words and sentences only serve to present Pessoa's incomparable poetry of loneliness in a new light, equally fulgent and searing, just focussed from an alternate angle. A richly marbled interiority of immanent pain and transcendent beauty.


    Revisiting the disquietude of early modern Lisbon, I'm reminded anew how this collection of Pessoa's dispassionate passion is one whose title is so perfectly matched to the content within that one can sit there (all by oneself, of course) cushioned within the utter silence of an unvoiced existence, serving as an unexciting urban renewal zone for migratory dust motes and unimpressive highland anchored lethality for predatory silken arachnids, with a nigh sardonic set to the tight-lipped, hesitantly-committed smile of satisfaction that imprints itself upon one's otherwise stoney visage, and marvel at how much one man's textually decanted imaginative impressions and gossamer ruminations running the interior gauntlet of unlived memories, unacted performances, unconsummated affairs, unshed tears, unwatched observations, unwinged flights, ungrounded fears, unfelt kisses, untouched caresses, uninvolved emotions, unexercised exertions, untasted repasts, unliked friendships, unmet acquaintances, untold stories, unpoured libations, undone happenings, unannounced recollections, unlit umbrages, unformed expressions, untraveled journeys, unnoticeable leavenings, unhoused guilts, and unarticulated speechifications resonate, to the fullest extent, with the plucked strings ever aquiver within the utterly empty, lonely, and withdrawn chambers of the mind- and/or house-bound soul.

  3. Jim Fonseca Jim Fonseca says:

    I just came across this article about literary Lisbon with a lot about Pessoa - very good

    The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

    If you read this, you need to know what you are signing up for, so, below, I’ll let Pessoa speak for himself. It’s a series of vignettes, random thoughts and meditations all written between 1913 and 1935.


    It’s a work of genius, of course. Pessoa, the famous Portuguese writer and poet was known for his multiple writing personalities (heteronyms). Disquiet was supposedly written by Bernardo Soares, an excruciatingly lonely and socially dysfunctional man. He’s a shipping clerk in a textile wholesaler and spends his entire life a few blocks from his tiny apartment with one window on a balcony. He goes to the same restaurant, same tobacconist and same barber for thirty years. All of them die one by one in their 70’s, which he discovers by going into the shop and finding out they died the day before. The first two passages show some of his severe social issues.

    “Moreover, I am bothered by the idea of being forced into contact with someone. A simple invitation to dine with a friend provokes in me an anguish it would be hard to define. The idea of any social obligation – going to a funeral, discussing an office matter face-to-face with someone, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don’t know - the mere idea disturbs a whole day’s thoughts. Sometimes I am concerned all through the night and sleep badly. And the real thing, when it happens, is absolutely insignificant, justifying nothing; and the thing repeats itself and I don’t ever learn to learn.”

    “Sometimes saying hello to someone intimidates me. My voice dries up, as if there were a strange audacity in having to say that word out loud.”


    “There are metaphors that are more real than the people walking down the street. There are images in the secret corners of books that live more clearly than many men and women. There are literary phrases that possess an absolutely human individuality. There are passages in paragraphs of mine that chill me with fear, so clearly do I feel them to be people, standing alone so freely from the walls of my room, at night, in shadows…”

    “Yes, dreaming that I am, for example, simultaneously, separately, unconfusedly, a man and a woman taking a walk along a riverbank, To see myself, at the same time, with equal clarity, in the same way, with no mixing, being the two things, integrated equally in both, a conscious boat in a southern sea and a printed page in an ancient book. How absurd this seems! But everything is absurd, and this dream is the least of the absurdities.”

    “There is nothing that reveals poverty of mind more quickly than not knowing how to be witty except at the expense of others.”

    “I go forward slowly, dead, and my vision is no longer mine, it’s nothing: it’s only the vision of the human animal who, without wanting, inherited Greek culture, Roman order, Christin morality, and all the other illusions that constitute the civilization in which I feel.”

    “In the dark depth of my soul, invisible, unknown forces were locked in a battle in which my being was the battleground, and all of me trembled because of the unknown struggle. A physical nausea at all of life was born when I awakened. A horror at having to live rose up with me from the bed. Everything seemed empty, and I had the cold impression that there is no solution for any problem.”

    “Ennui is not the illness of the boredom of not having anything to do, but the more serious illness of feeling that it’s not worthwhile doing anything. And being that way, the more there is to do, the more ennui there is to feel.”

    “How many times, how many, as now, has it pained me to feel what I am feeling – to feel something like anguish only because that’s what feeling is, the disquiet of being here, the nostalgia for something else, something unknown, the sunset of all emotions, the yellowing of myself fading into ashy sadness in my external awareness of myself.”

    “During certain very clear moments of meditation, like these in which, at the beginning of the afternoon, I wander observingly through the streets, every person brings me a message, every house shows me something new, every sign has an announcement for me.”

    “Sometimes, with a sad delight, I think that if some day, in a future to which I may not belong, these words I’m writing will endure and receive praise, I will finally have people who ‘understand’ me, my people, the true family to be born into and to be loved by. But far from being born into it, I will have already died a long time before. I will be understood only in effigy, when affection no longer compensates the dead person for the disaffection he experienced when alive.”


    “I consider life an inn where I have to stop over until the coach from the abyss arrives. I don’t know where it will take me because I don’t know anything. I could consider this inn a prison because I’m force to stay inside it; I could consider it a place for socializing because I meet others here…I slowly sing, only to myself, songs that I compose as I wait.”

    “Everything is emptier than the void….If I think this and look around to see if reality is killing me with thirst, I see inexpressive houses, inexpressive faces, inexpressive gestures. Stone, bodies, ideas – everything’s dead. All movements are stopping points, all of them the same stopping point. Nothing says anything to me. Nothing is familiar to me, not because I find it strange but because I don’t know what it is. The world is lost. And in the depth of my soul – the only reality at this moment – there is an intense, invisible anguish, a sadness, like the sound of someone weeping in a dark room.”

    Not an easy or a pleasant read, but genius.

    Top painting from
    Sculpture of Pessoa in Lisbon from
    Photo of Lisbon in 1940 from

  4. Dolors Dolors says:

    I have this habit of keeping a pencil close by when I'm reading a book which I know is going to have some passages I want to remember. So, whenever I come across a sentence or a paragraph that strikes me for some reason, I underline it.
    Well now, what's mostly happened with my copy of the The book of disquiet by Fernando Pessoa is that there is something underlined in almost every page of the book. Which is the same to say that this is a memorable book on the whole. I'd even dare to say that this is more than a mere book, it is a gate to upper thinking, a new way of understanding the world, a new philosophy, a daring and maybe even scary but sincere approach to what is hidden in our human souls, if we are brave enough to look.

    I knew a bit of Pessoa before I picked up this book. Vastly known Portuguese poet, famous for his ability to create different personalities and stick to them closely to perfection, writing in different styles according to the voice of each character. Schizophrenia? Or the mind of a genius who fooled everyone who knew him? Or a man who disguised himself out of boredom and who was able to live more than 70 different and complete lives through all these invented characters to become a complete real person? Maybe all these options at once. Maybe none. We'll never know.
    Anyway, even though I knew about Pessoa, I wasn't prepared for this book.
    Not only unconnected recollections of the supposed life of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa's characters, but also unanswerable questions which left me kind of anxious and peaceful at the same time, if that makes any sense...
    Questions regarding consciousness, the almost obsession about dreams and the state of peaceful lethargy of sleeping, doubts aroused regarding deities, love and death. And about what it is to be happy or to feel nostalgia about a non existent past, or about egoism and solitude. But all this questions made even more intense with this overflowing passion for writing, and for literature. And for Lisbon.

    A privileged mind which opens for us, humble readers who want to witness an amazing transformation of the world surrounding us, seeing for the first time what our lives really are, or what they aren't and what we should expect them to be.
    An experience which will leave you exhausted but with renewed energy to face this extenuating and unavoidable journey which we call life.

  5. Lizzy Lizzy says:

    'We're well aware that every creative work is imperfect and that our most dubious aesthetic contemplation will be the one whose object is what we write. But everything is imperfect. There's no sunset so lovely it couldn't be yet lovelier, no gentle breeze bringing us sleep that couldn't bring yet sounder sleep.'

    Almost all my feelings…
    As soon as I turned the last page, I realized how much I was going to miss The Book of Disquiet. For it has been my faithful companion for over two weeks, as my friends are witness for their company was always there with me. As soon as I turned the last page, I worried, what am I going to do now? But now it seems my only consolation is all the quotes I collected during this lavish period. So I now populate my new solitude with these gems, with Fernando Pessoa’s amazing dreams.
    'I've never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. My worst sorrows have evaporated when I've opened the window on the street of my dreams and forgotten myself in what I saw there.'

    I’ve always been a dreamer, but I dream mainly through readings that I always carried along with me in my life’s journey. I cannot now pretend to be a dreamer like Fernando Pessoa, or Bernardo Soare: I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. For I lived more in the real world than Pessoa confessedly did. Every dream is the same dream, for they're all dreams. Let God change my dreams, but for my gift of dreaming. For him they were his nourishment, his own life. But for me they are my leisure. Yes, my dreams might not be his dreams but they are as alive as his, as dear to me as his were to him.
    'I read and I am liberated. I acquire objectivity. I cease being myself and so scattered. And what I read, instead of being like a nearly invisible suit that sometimes oppresses me, is the external world’s tremendous and remarkable clarity, the sun that sees everyone, the moon that splotches the still earth with shadows, the wide expanses that end in the sea, the blackly solid trees whose tops greenly wave, the steady peace of ponds of farms, the terraced slopes with their paths overgrown with grape-vines.'

    We might be distinct souls, but there is one thing that we are one and that I felt is his anxiety and is also my own:
    'My tedium takes on an air of horror, and my boredom is a fear. My sweat isn’t cold, but my awareness of it is. I’m not physically ill, but my soul’s anxiety is so intense that it passes through my pores and chills my body.'

    Yes, it seems we could even be related,
    'It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day (...) the sentences I write are read and admired, then at last I'll have my own kin, people who 'understand' me, my true family in which to be born and loved.'

    The main difference is that I am not a writer, I am only a reader. And so I am his soul mate for I complete him when I leaf through the pages of his book. As are all his readers that give life to his writings. His prose so beautiful it is heartbreaking, despite his own insecurities. But I would I wish to be a writer if the price is to not live? Better to write to dare to live...

    Do you suppose that that is the reason of my contentment? Should you ask if I’m happy, I’ll say that I’m not. For me there is not so much solitude, no lack of friendship, no ceaseless tedium. Only unhappiness is elevating, and only the tedium that comes from unhappiness is heraldic like the descendants of ancient heroes. So, I could not ever be a good poet and I am glad I had never desired so high. Although I have to confess that I had some dreams of being a poet. But these were only dreams…

    Perhaps I could have never been a poet, for above all I love. I love my friends, I love my children, I loved a man and I love life. And I could never declare like Pessoa, We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It’s our concept – our own selves – that we love. Or even that [l]ife hinders the expression of life. If I actually lived a great love, I would never be able to describe it. Maye I should read other poets… But I have to agree with him when he states, I wake up to make sure I exist... Aren’t we all always unsure if we truly exist?

    Am I ordinary?, for most of the time I realize I think with my feelings. While Pessoa confesses: I believe most people think with their feelings, whereas I feel with my thoughts. Yes, I am happily ordinary. While his happiness is as painful as [his] pain.

    However, the more I say I don’t agree with our poet, the more I believe him. Am I saying nonsense? Sometimes to be a poet is to unbelieve. Oh, I believe we can travel through our dreams, we can imagine unimaginable places within our dreams:
    'What can China give me that my soul hasn't already given me? And if my soul can't give it to me, how will China give it to me? For it's with my soul that I'll see China, if I ever see it. I could go and seek riches in the Orient, but not the riches of the soul, because I am my soul's riches, and I am where I am, with or without the Orient.'

    But after all my incoherence, I can only agree with Pessoa:
    'It's the central error of the literary imagination: to suppose that others are like us and must feel as we do. Fortunately for humanity, each man is just who he is, it begin given only to the genius to be others as well.'
    But our natures are diverse, for I am not as solitary as he was. I am solitary, you might say, but I have my books. What does he have? Only his dreams or a poignant and fruitful solitude. To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving. Can we be that alone? I ask myself, or only genius and poets have that gift? Perhaps, if so that is a sad truth.

    Some closing remarks…
    I feel I need to add a few considerations, besides my ramblings above.

    Pessoa called this work as a factless biography. It might present distinct tones of the absurd, and despite its hints of indifference or even cynicism, it’s nevertheless a quintessential trait of its writer. He reveals an ethereal existence, or his own life, through his willful approach towards his own disquietude; through his sense of a consciousness that suffers with a tedium that results basically from his own senselessness existence. And in that he could not be more truthful.

    Faced with the life’s adversity, and aiming to overcome the anguish to him so acute, he imagines, he dreams. This may be one of the reasons for his so many personalities (his heteronyms, who could each write in distinct literary styles) to be born. He is not one, he is many. So he can experience different lives in only one existence. According to him:
    'My intellect has attained a pliancy and a reach that enable me to assume any emotion I desire and enter at will into any state of mind.'

    For me, his flow of thoughts or dreaming that we read in The Book of Disquiet captures the writer’s mind, reveals a structure and a repetition in thoughts that talks about solitude, dream, tedium, love or un-love and unhappiness. It is ultimately passionate and painful.

    Bernardo Soares is Pessoa’s heteronym considered to be the closest to Pessoa’s real self; and his writings strongly express Pessoa’s aspiration to live an imagined life, as if in a dream, so as to forget his self in real life. He continually writes about his dreams, their nature and importance to his survival:
    'Live your life. Don’t be lived by it. Right or wrong, happy or sad, be your own self. You can do this only by dreaming, because your real life, your human life, is the one that doesn’t belong to you but to others. You must replace your life with your dreaming, concentrating only on dreaming perfectly. In all the acts of your real life, from that of being born to that of dying, you don’t act – you’re acted; you don’t live – you’re merely lived.'

    Rain frequently appear in his writings and it could be viewed as a symbol of his disquietude, his unrelenting dreaming that pours over his own existence. What a wistful and beautiful vision Pessoa gifts us:
    “Each drop of rain is my failed life weeping in nature. There’s something of my disquiet in the endless drizzle, then shower, then drizzle, then shower, through which the day’s sorrow uselessly pours itself out over the earth. It rains and keeps raining. My soul is damp from hearing it. So much rain… My flesh is watery around my physical sensation of it.

    And he dialogues with the readers, but mainly he questions or even doubts himself and his own writing:
    'What will I be ten years from now, or even five? My friends say I'll be one of the greatest contemporary poets - they say this based on what I've written, not what I may yet write. But even if this is true, I have no idea what it will mean. I have no idea how it will taste. Perhaps glory tastes like death and futility, and triumph smells of rottenness.'

    The Book of Disquiet moved and overwhelmed me fiercely. Pessoa bit by bit immersed himself into my own self, made me wonder and tremble with his alluring and poignant words, much above a mere understanding. I perceived his disquiet, and I shared with him many uncertainties or yet his certainties. His solitude and his dreaming are written down in my soul and will certainly come back to me in the future. Ah, to be such a poet, what a dream and what sufferings!

    Other quotes

    • 'I weep over my imperfect pages, but if future generations read them, they will be more touched by my weeping than by any imperfection I might have achieved, since perfection would have kept me from weeping and, therefore, from writing. Perfection never materializes.'

    • 'When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial, and in them intelligence like an image in a mirror.'

    • 'I've undertaken every project imaginable. The Iliad composed by me had a structural logic in its organic linking of epodes such as Homer could never have achieved. The meticulous perfection my unwritten verses makes Virgil's precision look sloppy and Milton's power slack. My allegorical satires surpassed all of Swift's in the symbolic exactitude of their rigorously interconnected particular. How many Horaces I've been.'

    • 'When I put away my artifices and lovingly arrange in a corner all my toys, words, images and phrases, so dear to me I feel like kissing them, then I become so small and innocuous, so alone in a room so large and sad, so profoundly sad.'

    • 'Sadly I write in my quiet room, alone as I have always been, alone as I will always be. And I wonder if my apparently negligible voice might not embody the essence of thousands of voices, the longing of self-expression of thousands of lives, the patience of millions of souls resigned like my own to their daily lot, their useless dreams and their hopeless hopes.'

    • 'I’m dazed by a sarcastic terror of life, a despondency that exceeds the limits of my conscious being. I realize that I was all error and deviation, that I never lived, that I existed only in so far as I filled time with consciousness and thought. I feel, in this moment, like a man who wakes up after a slumber full of real dreams, or like a man freed by an earthquake from the dim light of the prison he’d grown used to.'

    • 'It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day (...) the sentences I write are read and admired, then at last I'll have my own kin, people who 'understand' me, my true family in which to be born and loved. But from being born into it, I'll have already died long ago. I'll be understood only in effigy, when affection can no longer compensate for the indifference that was the dead man's lot in life.'

    • 'Not only am I dissatisfied with the poems I write now; I also know that I will be dissatisfied with the poems I write in the future...
    So why do I keep writing? Because I still haven't learned... I haven't been able to give up my inclination to poetry and prose. I have to write, as if I were carrying out a punishment. And the greatest punishment is to know that whatever I write will be futile, flawed and uncertain.'

    • 'My state of mind compels me to work hard, against my will, on The Book of Disquiet. But it's all fragments, fragments, fragments...'

  6. Matthias Matthias says:


    Some books wrap me up in dreams and fantasy, creating a protective bubble in which I can leisurely gaze at the world in comfort. The opposite happened when reading “The Book of Disquiet”, a book that lives up to its title like no other. I didn’t get wrapped up in anything. With every sentence I read I felt myself being unwrapped, as layers of self-deceit and unconsciousness were shed.


    I held the book in my hands. I could decide to open and close it. I could decide to put it away. But despite all that it didn’t take long for me to realise that I was not the one in power, as the book firmly grasped me in turn. Not through my mind, like good books. Not through my heart, like great books. It grasped my soul and never let go. While I was reading this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it had beaten me to it, in that the book was reading me and that it did so more quickly and effectively than I could read its pages. This book is a mirror for my soul, a mirror in which my reflection always sees me first, a mirror where my reflection waves to me and I wave back.


    I’m compelled to take over the book’s structure in this review, and that’s not only because of Junta’s shining example. There is no plot weaving together the pages. The book is made up of more than two hundred diary entries. But this is a special diary. The entries seldom talk of work, of interactions with other people, of the goings-on in the day. They deal with the author’s rich inner life, to which the outside reality offers only a background at best. Pessoa sat down at his desk and just wrote what he thought. Streams of thoughts are often fragmentary, and so is this book. Every number allows a new idea to carry you through poetic landscapes until the author reaches the shores of that idea and he starts over, sometimes with a new idea, sometimes with the same, sometimes leading to the same shore, sometimes further away or closer by. As a result, my notes of my reactions to the book are equally fragmentary, each note representing a new stream as I glide to the next number and I start over.


    One of my favorite things to do is to stand in between two mirrors that stand directly opposite of each other. To see my reflection multiplied to infinity is the most humbling ego-boost I can think of. I say infinity but if you look far enough into that world of infinite reflections there is a dark hole at the end of it, there where the light ceases to reach and where my beholding eye ceases to behold.
    Consciousness is a mirror. Consciousness of consciousness leads to a similar infinity that seemingly leads to nothingness.


    Infinity sharpens my mind and elates my heart as a concept, but it numbs my mind and shrinks my heart as a reality. Nothingness is just one version of infinity. Equating everything to zero is the easiest solution to find, but the most difficult one to accept.


    I don’t know if this book has changed my life. It added a layer of consciousness to my consciousness and makes me more aware of inner processes. On the other hand, it couldn’t have done so if it didn’t confirm my consciousness, if it didn’t confirm what I already felt and knew without knowing. My soul was stripped of the comfort and warmth of the mundane, but already I feel myself slipping back into the world and out of myself.


    A connection feels meaningful when it is direct, goes deep and is complete.


    Dreams I’ve never bothered to write down, thoughts and follies that were interrupted: much of what I have said, written and thought is lost. Only the abstract memory of having said, written and thought lingers. Before I go to sleep, thoughts wash over me, turning around in my head, taking five paths at once and dancing in harmony. The mind is cleared and cleansed with these high-speed thought-cycles but then, a jolt of consciousness, the spell is broken and the thoughts are forever lost, hiding away in dreams. The heavy weight of consciousness doesn’t last as another torrent of thoughts sweeps down and I fall into a peaceful sleep. How I would like to commit those thoughts to paper, to catch the wild torrents and be at peace.


    In my mind’s eye a castle is easily conjured up, the atmosphere is palpable, the potential for storytelling enormous. I pick up my pen. The jester is no longer a concept, but a living thing in need of adventures and adjectives. The scene becomes heavy and slow and I grind to a halt.


    An unlikable side-effect of my consciousness is that I can’t help but feel special. That feeling doesn’t start at the cerebral level. Somewhere in the depths of my diaphragm there is this core, a source of that intuition. Sometimes that core is cold and the feeling fades, but this book made it burn brightly. I look at the reviews page and I see that it did so for others. My feeling special makes way for a special feeling.


    Like Pessoa, I find a lot of philosophy in the exceedingly small. That which does not matter, matters precisely because of it. When I look at an ant hard at work, I find that its essence is its being. This goes for everything, but it is in the insignficant that this is made the most obvious to me. A blade of grass sticking out of the pavement. Small numbers written in pencil on a wall that now have lost all significance. A bug. An abandoned shack that has fallen in disuse.

    I was hiking in a wild, rough coastal region in France. On the sandy path there was a small patch of pebbles and I resolved to pick one up and throw it into the sea far below when I'd get close enough. During my walk I thought about what had brought the pebble to that patch, what had brought me there, and as ever, one thought led to the other. The pebble became heavy with my ponderings. I could not bring myself to throw it into the anonymity of the crashing waves when the time came.



    Whenever I find wonder in the banal, nothingness becomes less likely. Banality is a virtue, importance is a sin. There is no wonder in importance, only design.

    The situation of the spider crawling on my book only a few moments after I had read the small chapter on millimeters held wonder, but the picture I took was designed, flipping back to the relevant page so that spider could walk on it. It felt important to share the moment so I turned wonder into an anecdote.


    Sometimes reality feels like the dream that my inaction brought to fruition.
    Sometimes reality feels like the remnants in the sieve through which my dreams are poured.

  7. Rowena Rowena says:

    I follow the course of my dreams, making them images into steps toward other images; folding casual metaphors like fans into grand pictures of interior vision; I untie life from myself, and I toss it aside as if it were a too-tight suit.- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

    You know a writer is great when he makes you want to learn a new language to understand his work in the original. The Book of Disquiet is easily the best book I've read this year, and possibly the one I've copied the most quotes from. I'd only ever read Pessoa's poetry and I had no idea what to expect from his prose. It turns out he does poetry and prose equally well.

    I would love to have a conversation with Pessoa, although I would probably be an annoyance to him with his desire for solitude. But having a deep, philosophical conversation with him would be like a dream. He has such fascinating thoughts! He delves into the complexity of humans and helped me to understand the reason for his several heteronyms in his poetry:

    Each of us is various, many people, a prolixity of selves.

    I feel that this is the sort of book that people will either think is brilliant or they will think Pessoa is too sentimental and sensitive. I have to say that I rarely come across a writer who thinks so deeply and obsessively about certain things. Pessoa's favourite topics seem to be dreams, solitude, writing, the futility of life (was he an existentialist? He reminds me a bit of Meursault). I may share Pessoa's melancholy to some extent but I don't share his negative outlook, his depression and his misanthropic nature! Even so, this was a brilliant book and one I'm so glad I finally read.

    Pessoa's writing really consumed me at times. Definitely a book to be savoured, and a candidate for a re-read.

    When I write, I visit myself solemnly. I have special rooms, remembered by someone else in the interstices of my self-representation, where I take pleasure in analyzing what I do not feel, and I examine myself as if I were a painting in the shadows.

  8. Florencia Florencia says:

    If I write what I feel, it’s to reduce the fever of feeling. What I confess is unimportant, because everything is unimportant. I make landscapes out of what I feel. I make holidays of my sensations. (42)

    He who does not know how to populate his solitude, does not know either how to be alone in a busy crowd.
    - Charles Baudelaire, Crowds

    Some dreams want to transcend our minds. They want to feel alive, be outside and become reality. We all have dreamed about things that, even after we woke up, we are not sure if they actually happened or never left the secure yet claustrophobic mind of ours. And so, while those dreams are trying to abandon that place, magic can happen. When they realize they can't, tragedy awaits.
    This is the story of a man who lived a thousand lives and wrote about the fragile boundary between reality and dreaming with the most beautiful and heartbreaking prose I've ever encountered.

    I wanted to read this book for a long time. When I found it, I did something I try not to do: I skimmed it. I wanted to see something before my better judgment had control over my literary anxiety. Before I knew, I found myself reading a mesmerizing passage that I couldn't leave until I finished it.
    Lucid Diary
    My life: a tragedy booed off stage by the gods, never getting beyond the first act.
    Friends: not one. Just a few acquaintances who imagine they feel something for me and who might be sorry if a train ran over me and the funeral was on a rainy day. The logical reward of my detachment from life is the incapacity I’ve created in others to feel anything for me. There’s an aureole of indifference, an icy halo, that surrounds me and repels others. I still haven’t succeeded in not suffering from my solitude. It’s hard to achieve that distinction of spirit whereby isolation becomes a repose without anguish... (579)

    From that moment, I just knew it was going to be an extremely emotional experience. Whoever said that reading is a passive activity, never found a book with the power of taking his soul out for a ride.
    What a book. I could relate to almost every word. Every yearning for something that could never happen. Every loss that did happen. Every thought made by a restless mind. And every feeling conceived by an isolated heart longing for an endless dream. A cure. Redemption. Or nothing.

    The melancholic beauty of his prose and the heartbreaking honesty of his sorrow made me feel too small. And relieved. Suddenly, many of my thoughts and feelings were exposed in those pages that I was never able to write. And he did it. Pessoa did it with the most exquisite language you could ever hope to find.

    The atmosphere is filled with an overwhelming sense of failure and frustration.
    I envy – but I’m not sure that I envy – those for whom a biography could be written, or who could write their own. In these random impressions, and with no desire to be other than random, I indifferently narrate my factless autobiography, my lifeless history. These are my Confessions, and if in them I say nothing, it’s because I have nothing to say. (42)

    Each drop of rain is my failed life weeping in nature. There’s something of my disquiet in the endless drizzle, then shower, then drizzle, then shower, through which the day’s sorrow uselessly pours itself out over the earth.
    It rains and keeps raining. My soul is damp from hearing it. So much rain... (177)

    Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. (80)

    Again, fluid and uncertain, the rain pattered. Time dragged to its accompaniment. My soul’s solitude grew and spread, invading what I felt, what I wanted, and what I was going to dream. The room’s hazy objects, which shared my insomnia in the shadows, moved with their sadness into my desolation. (285)

    And so, not knowing how to believe in God and unable to believe in an aggregate of animals, I, along with other people on the fringe, kept a distance from things... Could it think, the heart would stop beating. (30)

    I've never had anyone I could call ‘Master’. No Christ died for me. No Buddha showed me the way. No Apollo or Athena, in my loftiest dreams, ever appeared to enlighten my soul. (533)

    And many other displays of human nature. Devastating situations that contrast themselves with the lyrical beauty of this man's writing.
    His crude words are still little sunbeams that could enlighten the obscure depths of our souls, only if we let them. In that so human selfishness of ours, we always think nobody is suffering more than we do. We are the only ones struggling to survive in this world that we never asked for. Well, we are not; that is not an extraordinary epiphany. But reading the words of a man whose thoughts are so familiar to us always represents an inspirational experience. We feel like we just found the necessary balm to soothe our pain. That is the healing power of understanding. Of empathy.
    We are not alone. We never were. Like Soares in this book, I am acquainted with isolation more than I would have wanted to. I breathe it. I am made of it. And still, somehow, I am not alone.
    A breath of music or of a dream, of something that would make me almost feel, something that would make me not think. (57)

    Being fatally sensitive can be exhausting and a perpetual cause of sorrow. But the so-desired inability to feel resembles to being dead inside a living body. Human existence doesn't limit itself to some functional organs. Feeling nothing is not the answer. You might as well be truly dead.

    So, yes. This book is my newest treasure. My diary and sanctuary. I can't help but to be grateful. It filled my head with many questions that I wish I could find the answers by myself.
    What to do when we are forced to leave the safe place our dreams represent? Can they make us do it? Will we ever find the strength enough to face the world? Do we have to?
    Do we dare?
    I sleep when I dream of what doesn't exist; dreaming of what might exist wakes me up. (179)

    Life should be about finding a sane balance between reality and fantasy. That reminds me of something I found the other day. I don't know if the following words really belong to Pizarnik—they sure sound like her—and since I couldn't find them in English, I kind of translated them. Trust me, they are too beautiful in Spanish. So, I apologize in advance.

    I am simply not from this world... I frenziedly dwell in the moon. I am not afraid of dying; I am afraid of this foreign, aggressive land...
    I cannot think about specific things; I am not interested. I cannot speak like everybody else. My words are foreign, they come from far away... What will I do when I plunge myself in my wildest dreams and cannot ascend? Because that is going to happen, eventually. I will go and I won't know how to come back. Moreover, I will not know that there is a coming back. I will not want it, perhaps.

    No. Pessoa was not alone.

    According to this book, Soares was not a pessimist. He was sad. He suffered and dreamed. And he complained without knowing if suffering was the norm, if he deserved it for some reason. However, he rejoiced in the fact that he could play with his complaints and made them musical because he was an artist. He could give beauty to his complaints and dreams.
    But, if you can't do that, if you are not an artist... well. What then?

    Note: I read the English (Zenith) and Spanish (Crespo) translations at the same time. I prefer the English one.
    Apr 27, 14

    * Also on my blog.
    ** Other reviews:
    A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems
    The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa
    The Education of the Stoic
    El Banquero Anarquista (written in Spanish)

  9. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Livro do Desassossego = The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa
    The Book of Disquiet is a work by the Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935).
    In Lisbon there are a few restaurants or eating houses located above decent-looking taverns, places with the heavy, domestic look of restaurants in towns far from any rail line. These second-story eateries, usually empty except on Sundays, frequently contain curious types whose faces are not interesting but who constitute a series of digressions from life. — Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet, trans. Alfred MacAdam.

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه آگوست سال 2011 میلادی
    عنوان: کتاب دل‌ واپسی؛ نویسنده: فرناندو پسوا؛ مترجم: جاهد جهانشاهی؛ تهران، نگاه، 1384؛ در 335 ص؛ شابک: 9643512746؛ عنوان دیگر: کتاب دل واپسی برناردو سوارز کمک حسابدار؛ موضوع: سرگذشت شاعران پرتغالی - سده 20 م

    نقل از متن کتاب: اگر کسی مالک رودخانه ای روان باشد، آیا باد وزنده نیز میتواند از آن کسی باشد؟ ما نه صاحب اندامیم و نه حقیقت و نه حتا رؤیا. ما اشباح پا گرفته از دروغیم، از سایه های تلقینیم، و زندگی من از درون، همچون برون هیچ است. کسی که مرزهای روان خود را میشناسد میتواند بگوید: من، من ام؟ ولی من میدانم آنچه را حس میکنم از جانب من احساس میشود. ما چه چیز را مالکیم؟ وقتی نمیدانیم چه ایم، پس چطور میدانیم که مالک چه ایم. پایان نقل از کتاب. پس از پیدا کردن دوباره ی دست نوشته‌ های «پسوا» در سال 1982 میلادی، جهانیان بی‌درنگ به شایستگی‌های ستودنی ایشان پی بردند، و دریافتند که ایشان همزمان، بزرگترین نویسنده ی سده بیستم میلادی پرتغال، نخستین پایه‌ گذار نوگرایی در کشورش، و نخستین بانی پسانوگرایی در جهان بوده‌ است. «فرناندو پسوا» به شدت تحت تأثیر ژرف‌ اندیشی، و جهان‌ نگری «خیام» بوده، و هرجا که فرصتی یافته، لب به ستایش ایشان بگشوده‌ است. «کتاب دلواپسی» نیز، به گونه‌ ای با اندیشه ی «خیام» گره خورده‌ است. «پسوا» را در زمینه ی سرایندگی و شعر (نظم)، با «ریکله»، و در زمینه ی نگارش (نثر) با «شکسپیر» قابل قیاس دانسته‌ اند. ا. شربیانی

  10. David Schaafsma David Schaafsma says:

    Job: “My soul is weary of my life.”

    Pessoa/Soares: “I'd woken up early, and I took a long time getting ready to exist.”

    Pessoa/Soares: “I write because I don’t know.”

    You are planning a party; here’s your guest list:

    Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov (from Crime and Punishment)
    Melville’s “Bartelby the Scrivener”
    Kafka’s Gregor Samsa (from The Metamorphosis)
    Joyce’s Stephan Dedalus (from The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)
    Camus’s Merseault (from The Stranger)
    Beckett’s Molloy
    Sartre’s Roquentin (from Nausea)

    I'm a comics guy, too, so let's let in Noah Van Sciver (who wrote Disquiet [I suspect naming it with Pessoa in mind] and a comics biography, The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln)

    Hmm, maybe you also invite Hamlet (for some historical perspective) to recite his “To be or not to be. . . “ soliloquy as entertainment, or have Macbeth say out his speech at the party opening, “Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. . .”

    And you will add your own literary grumps, when you begin to pick up the pattern of this literary party guest list. Some fun, eh? What’s a good party game for this bunch, Russian Roulette?

    I just met someone who is a perfect addition to the guest list, Bernardo Soares, from Ferdinand Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet published in 1982, 47 years after his death at 47 in 1935. What do they have in common, the characters on our guest list? All men, yep. Men largely living without women. And many of them alone, even if they live with others. Sad, sad men. Melancholic. Intense.

    So what does Soares, a mild assistant bookkeeper, bring to the party that we don’t already have? Well, for one, he’s Portuguese, from Lisbon, and The Rua dos Douradores, where he lives and works and eats alone in one solitary restaurant night after night. Soares’s “story”—never to be finished, based on scraps of paper Pessoa threw in a trunk, edited and arranged by Richard Zenith with loving care—is mainly a collection of aphorisms and philosophical reflections and psychological insights with respect to Soares’s experience of “disquiet,” which I take to be a psychological condition akin to depression, ennui, and alienation, but which also seems to be a kind of existentialist statement.

    Some people think Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet makes of Lisbon what Joyce’s works make of Dublin, or Kafka’s works make of Prague. The difference? Joyce’s novel is a narrative, and Disquiet actually resists narrative in most respects. It resists coherence, completion, and is a kind of deconstructionist, meta-fictional precursor to postmodernism. Resistant to logic. Often absurd. I don’t think it is for everyone, especially if you want to read a good old-fashioned story, but it does create a portrait of an interesting character, and it does have some of the most beautiful and insightful sentences you will ever read in a book. Many people list it as one of the greatest works of fiction of all time, and I won’t say nay to that, but I think as he never finished it, most readers won’t finish it, either. Would Pessoa care if we finished it? What does it mean to finish or not finish it?

    The basic move Pessoa makes to convey “disquiet” is a set of repeated paralyzing contradictions, inversions, circularities or oxymorons, which can also seem very darkly funny:

    “. . . the stoicism of the weak.”

    “Though naturally ambitious, he savored the pleasure of having no ambitions at all.”

    “Consoler of the inconsolable, Tears of those who never cry, Hour that never sounds — free me from joy and happiness.”

    “To give love is to lose love.”

    “Only unhappiness raises us up.”

    “My joy is as painful as my grief.”

    “Since we can't extract beauty from life, let's at least try to extract beauty from not being able to extract beauty from life.”

    And on and on, delightfully and sometimes painfully so.

    The Book of Soares’s Disquiet is a portrait of melancholy, of isolation:

    “I am not a pessimist, I am merely sad.”

    “I aspire to nothing. Life wounds me.”

    “Do not make the infantile mistake of asking the meaning of things and words. Nothing has any meaning.”

    “. . . the chance circumstances of his life and the direction it had taken were dictated by his instincts, in his case inertia and detachment.”

    “My past is everything I failed to be.”

    “I feel as if I'm always on the verge of waking up.”

    “I'm sick of everything, and of the everythingness of everything.”

    “I've always rejected being understood. To be understood is to prostitute oneself. I prefer to be taken seriously for what I'm not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect.”

    “. . . the stagnant jewel of my ecstatic disdain.”

    Soares in his spare time keeps a journal of sorts, though we have no idea when he wrote what he wrote. Writing and reading do sustain him, in a way.

    “There are metaphors more real than the people who walk in the street. There are images tucked away in books that live more vividly than many men and women. There are phrases from literary works that have a positively human personality.”

    But writing is also not self-discovery so much as it is self-erasure:

    “To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”

    “I write because I don’t know.”

    And he’s also sustained by dreaming (which is of course related to reading and writing):

    “I never tried to be anything other than a dreamer. I never paid any attention to people who told me to go out and live. I belonged always to whatever was far from me and to whatever I could never be. Anything that was not mine, however base, always seemed to be full of poetry.”

    “I've never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life.”

    But as with writing, there's also the flip side of dreaming:

    “The only important fact for me is the fact that I exist and that I suffer and cannot entirely dream myself out of feeling that suffering.”

    “Their way of dreaming is a garment that conceals, not a dream that creates.”

    And he's alone:

    “We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It's our own concept—our own selves—that we love.”

    I want to share a longer section, just so you can get a better feel of Soares:

    “Today, suddenly, I reached an absurd but unerring conclusion. In a moment of enlightenment, I realized that I'm nobody, absolutely nobody. When the lightning flashed, I saw that what I had thought to be a city was in fact a deserted plain and, in the same sinister light that revealed me to myself, there seemed to be no sky above it. I was robbed of any possibility of having existed before the world. If I was ever reincarnated, I must have done so without myself, without a self to reincarnate.

    I am the outskirts of some non-existent town, the long-winded prologue to an unwritten book. I'm nobody, nobody. I don't know how to feel or think or love. I'm a character in a novel as yet unwritten, hovering in the air and undone before I've even existed, amongst the dreams of someone who never quite managed to breathe life into me.

    I'm always thinking, always feeling, but my thoughts lack all reason, my emotions all feeling. I'm falling through a trapdoor, through infinite, infinitous space, in a directionless, empty fall. My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool.”

    We are left with this explosion of dolorous language, “those feelings that inhabit the gloom of my wearinesses and the grottoes of my disquiets.”

    The Book of Disquiet raises questions about the nature of authorship in that, while it is technically authored by Pessoa, it is credited to one of his several heteronyms, Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper. Who is Pessoa? He’s not a stable, unified person, but multiple and fractured. Pessoa was known primarily as a poet with several titles under several different names. He leaves us with fragments of literature and identity.

    As Soares says, I feel “The vast indifference of the stars.” Seems like he and Hamlet and Beckett and Camus would have a lot not to talk about at your party.

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Livro do Desassossego por Bernardo Soares ✴ [BOOKS] ⚡ Livro do Desassossego por Bernardo Soares By Fernando Pessoa ✾ – 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 , Pessoa Fernando Pessoa was Desassossego por PDF É many writers in one He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate Livro do PDF/EPUB ² selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology and horoscope When he died in , Pessoa left behind do Desassossego por MOBI ð 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 PraguePublished 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.