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The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Fernando Pessoa , Richard Zenith
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

With its astounding hardcover reviews Richard Zenith's new complete translation of THE BOOK OF DISQUIET has now taken on a similar iconic status to ULYSSES, THE TRIAL or IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME as one of the greatest but also strangest modernist texts. An assembly of sometimes linked fragments, it is a mesmerising, haunting 'novel' without parallel in any other culture.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Pessoa died in 1935, a few years short of 50, he left behind a trunk of mostly unpublished writing in a variety of languages; his Lisbon publishers and variously translators are still sifting them. This perpetually unclassifiable and unfinished book of self-reflective fragments was first published in Portuguese in 1982, and it is arguably Pessoa's masterpiece. Four previous English translations, all published in 1991, were compromised either by abridgement, poor translation or error-laden source texts. While he's now a Pessoa veteran-having edited and translated Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems, the 1999 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation winner-Zenith's first pass at this book was one of the four misses. He bases this new translation on his own Portuguese edition of 1998, and has done an admirable job in bringing out the force and clarity in Pessoa's serpentine and sometimes opaque meditations. Pessoa often wrote as various personae (as Pessoa & Co. carefully demonstrated); Disquiet is no exception, being putatively the work of "Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon." Thus it is impossible to ascribe the book's anti-humanist logophilia directly to the author: "I weep over nothing that life brings or takes away, but there are pages of prose that have made me cry." That is just one of many permutations of similar sentiments, but the genius of Pessoa and his personae is that readers are left weighing each and every such sentence for sincerity and truth value.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“This superb edition of The Book of Disquiet is . . . a masterpiece.”  —John Lanchester, The Daily Telegraph“Pessoa’s rapid prose, snatched in flight and restlessly suggestive, remains haunting, often startling. . . . There is nobody like him.” —W. S. Merwin, The New York Review of Books“Extraordinary . . . a haunting mosaic of dreams, autobiographical vignettes, shards of literary theory and criticism and maxims.” —George Steiner, The Observer

"I plan to use this book every year in my course at Yale.  Thanks for making it available." —K. David Jackson, Yale University


Product Details

  • File Size: 765 KB
  • Print Length: 548 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (May 30, 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9X8I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,610 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
143 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Change your life - read Pessoa February 28, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing. I had never heard of Pessoa before I spied the book at Shakespeare & Co here in Paris, read the attached reviews and thought it must be worth the 10 Euros to see what I was missing.

Pessoa is unlike any other writer you will ever read. The closest match to this book that I can think of is Augustine's Confessions, albeit a more lovely written, more moving, post-modernist, secular version of that classic. It is existential philosophy, literary theory, diary, poetry, dream journal and confession all wrapped into one. A profound and profoundly moving book which will leave you wondering why such an incredible writer and thinker remains so obscure. The book is written in snatches, better to be dipped into at leisure than read straight thru. You'll find yourself annotating passages, writing down qoutes, rereading sections endlessly. You'll begin to question the reality of your existence, if not your own sanity, if you read it too thoroughly.

This is truly Art of the highest order and should be read by every thinking person. I'd give it 6 stars if I could.
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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and, well, disquieting September 10, 2004
It's quite difficult to describe this book; it's not about anything in particular. But if you have ever pondered the split seconds of mental webs strung in between your actual thoughts; if you have ever felt the presence of a question that threatens to disrupt your ability to function unless you write it down; if you have ever played with words and wondered if and how those words relate to what is real--then you must read Pessoa. One of the most compelling, fascinating, overwhelming things I have read. It will surely change you.
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90 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Caress of Extinction" March 24, 2005
I picked up this book based on the recommendation from British pop icon, Morrissey. Previously, I had never heard of Pessoa. Morrissey commented in a magazine that once you start reading this book, you won't put it down. And he was right!

Let me first say this book is astonishing in every way. Written in a prose/poetry/diary format, the images and landscapes invade your imagination and stay with you. With imagary such as: "To drag my feet homeward weighs like lead on my senses. The caress of extinction, the flower proffered by futility, my name never pronounced, my disquiet like a river contained between the banks, the privilege of abandoned duties, and - around the last bend in the ancestral park - that other century, like a rose garden." (page 391)

At times, it reads like a beautiful suicide note. But just when you think he's ready to do himself in, he says: "In certain particularly lucid moments of contemplation, like those of early afternoon when I observantly wander through the streets, each person brings me a novelty, each building teaches me something new, each placard has a message for me." (page 297)

I would say that Pessoa was the greatest writer to never publish. And the greatest of poet-philosophers to never exist. His place in history is long overdue. He should stand with the likes Baudelaire and Goethe and tower over most 20th century authors.

In summary, Pessoa has invented a new language for the forgotten, the alienated, the damned, the dispossessed, the "disquieted". The "Book of Disquiet" is the greatest masterpiece never finished. Read it with caution. You may find yourself in love with words again.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
At times some of it feels almost banal. It probably is. But some of it is simply more beautiful than anything i ever read. There is no plot and i like to read no more than a page a day. A recurring feeling of tiredness, a sense of no purpose in life, of immeasurable melancholy, but foremost a sense of being lost, alone, in a world one is not really part of, but can neither part from, is what informs Pessoa. It's probably not possible to express feelings like that in words, it certainly isn't possible to rationalize them, but never has anyone failed more beautifully at attempting than Pessoa.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To dream instead of to live... June 26, 2008
*The Book of Disquiet* is one of those great books that isn't for the great majority of people. Basically a collection of fragments written over the good part of a lifetime and attributed to one of Pessoa's literary alter-egos Bernardo Soares, *Disquiet* was assembled and translated by editor Richard Zenith from a legendary trunkful of unpublished texts discovered after Pessoa's death.

These semi-autobiographical reflections are dominated by an all-pervading world-weariness and negation of ordinary life--a book of disgust, as it were--saved from out and out nihilism only by a sort of idealistic solipsism--a perverse counter-celebration of dream, inertia, solitude, impotence, and failure. From this unlikely recipe, Pessoa manages to distill a formula for taking a morbidly decadent pleasure from a total rejection of the bleak facts of human existence just this side of suicide!

The short texts that make up *The Book of Disquiet* range from philosophical speculations to surrealistic prose poems, from misanthropic diatribes worthy of Dostoyevsky's "underground man," to daily diary entries that reflect on a wide-range of everyday subjects. The result is an exhaustive if uneven and often repetitive text, although through no fault of Pessoa's inasmuch as putting together a finished book from these fragments was a project that eluded him in his shortened life. As an editor, what Zenith has done here--for better and for worse--is give us a text almost scholarly in its completeness. As such, there is a great deal of redundancy in this edition of *Disquiet.* It's hard to imagine that Pessoa wouldn't have cut and shaped a finished version differently.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best!!
Published 11 days ago by Michael J. Barlew
5.0 out of 5 stars It is so complex and beautiful, I always find something new
I purchased this book when I was maybe 16, I am now 29. I have been reading it on and off, over and over the whole time. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Allison Fischer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
"The Book of Disquiet" is composed of Pessoa's un-finished and un-published work.
Published 1 month ago by Francisco Muro
1.0 out of 5 stars Revised
Published 1 month ago by David Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars it is better read in the manner in which it was written
Entertaining bits but don't try to read it straight thru.. it is better read in the manner in which it was written.
Published 2 months ago by hot4hypatia
5.0 out of 5 stars Pessoa is a genius! GET THIS!
If I could only have one book with me, it would be this one! It is always open on my desk!
Published 3 months ago by M. Tuite
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by carlos de abreu
5.0 out of 5 stars Here is the antidote. (To be taken in tincture.)
In India there are bitter vegetables people eat for their health -- to ward off diabetes and counter the effects of a diet over-high in refined sugars. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Guttersnipe Das
4.0 out of 5 stars Pessoa’s collection (assembled posthumously) represents a kind of...
Pessoa’s collection (assembled posthumously) represents a kind of “anti-text” of an order of intellectual and artistic depths scarcely matched in the modernist period. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Steiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Penguin edition is the best one in the market.
I am loving this book! It is truly a work of genius. The work a human soul. If the soul could speak and write, this is what it would look like. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mina
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