41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1999
Pessoa was a true acrobat of the imagination. The Book of Disquiet is a collection of epiphanic journal or diary prose kept by Pessoa and found decades after his death. The prose is truly some of the most gorgeous musings about everyday life and existence that any reader could ever find. The poet's world is laid out exquisitly and paradoxically for the entire benefit of those who read.I can't say I've ever found such beauty in the pages of a book before. If you like literature albeit simple or complex this book is something that you will immediately cherish for a very long time.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2011
I find the Richard Zenith translation to be much more lush and lyrical than Margaret Jull Costa's:
The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)
That being said, translation is an art of interpretation; this has some of the same syntactical constructions found in her Saramgo work (excellent, by the way) that don't work quite as well with Pessoa lexical peculiarities.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 1999
I first read of Pessoa in Geoff Dyer's biography of Lawrence. The Book Of Disquiet is genuinely original. In it Pessoa expounds his notion that a human being consists of several sensibilities irreconcilable with one another. For each of the individuals comprising Pessoa, Pessoa coins an appropriate (though not epithetic) "heteronym," of which there are more than a few. Pessoa regards the notion of a coherent personality--rather than a committee of warring selves--as an invitation to ignore any experience that does not easily consist with our notion of own characters, and thus an invitation both to dishonesty and to the rejection of experience. In this he is very close to the Buddhist notion that the Self is a fictional solidification of that which is eternally in flux. Pessoa has an uncanny intimacy with his own self and a very deep and moving commitment to the experience of being himself. This is a remarkable, deep, wise book.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2001
"If i think, it all seems absurd to me; if i feel, it all seems strange; if i desire, he who desires is something inside of me."
Sums up the book perfectly. Pessoa explores one of his many personalities. "The Book of Disquiet" explains, in complete depth and faith, the beauty of a lonely, existential, moment by moment life. He explains the beauty that people forget. He explains the world, his perception, as if every moment were the last.
"The book of disquiet" is one of the most insightful books a person can read, but only if one has imagination and an ability to let go. Bernardo Soars, Pessoa's personality who wrote the book, is extreme and eccentric. It isn't easy reading, and it won't affect you if you can't overlook the fact that life doesn't go on like Soars'; that there is more in thinking, dreaming, and desiring than Soars admits. What makes the book so special is how Soars can forget everything but the thought and the moment, and how he can analyze and critique and put into words something that most of us forget to remember. "The book of disquiet" reminds me, at least, of how to appreciate my own mind. It is the only philosophy-like book that i enjoy (as yet) because it is the real thing and encompasses a forgotten part of real life.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2002
Poetry often speaks to us; we see something in it, something recognizable, and it's like we are shown a piece of ourselves that had been hidden for a lifetime before. Finding Pessoa's *Book of Disquiet* was like finding a piece of myself. In the pages of this poetic novel you will find honesty, often self-disparaging, and you will find beauty in the smallest observation. However, be forewarned, this is not a book that should be picked up with the idea of light reading in mind. In fact, you may find that you have to put it down, repeatedly, to get away from it, to think, but you will always, always come back to it. Keep it close to hand.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 1998
This is a book which I happened across by chance and which has become one of the major influences on my life. Reading it was like a voyage of affirmation and discovery about myself and a constant wonder as to how such seemingly effortless and simple prose could elicit such a response within me. I have read another translation but the poetry of his prose is not present there. This is a book that I have recommended to friends but it may not be to everyone's tastes, some find it disturbing or depressing but I found it a wonder and a delight.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2000
Pessoa/Bernardo Soares has an exquisitely sensitive mind and the power to communicate its despairs and ecstasies in the course of ordinary days. The sensation of looking out onto a freshly washed city street in the morning for instance. The torments of wondering if strangers have seen into his lonely soul. Enigmatic paragraphs that convey the tremors of an intense inner life.
This book will change you because of its utter disregard of the unspoken dogma that prose must concern itself with outwardness and activity in the social sphere. It concerns itself in intense and particular detail with the essence of one person's mind. It makes for exhilarating reading.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2001
there are few poets able to assume so many diferent personalites as Fernando Pessoa. But Bernardo Soares is not a diferent personality, is just the other side of his personnal mirror, an escape to his tortured soul. Probably that is why The Book of Disquiet is so universal, a portait of the human fears, an example of a lonely man,travelling across his own mind, looking at the world through the most ironic eyes. Fernando Pessoa was able to understand dissapointment and regreat in a intemporal way, as a natural part of human nature. So, this book has the ability to make you look inside yourself, guide by one of the best poets of all times!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2000
Is Pessoa just him? What about Soares? And Reis? Alvaro do Campo was there too? A book that defies intelligence, a challenge to your mind, that will let you wonder if we are only one, or many dwell inside of our soul, and, magically, combine their forces and brain to produce such a wonderful piece of art.
Difficult, moving, concentrate, follow Pessoa-Soares voice, travel thru Lisbon, and relax, like Calvino, and do not anything disturb the relationship between the heteronyms and yourself, and wonder about the other voices that live with you
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
An existential, modernist masterpiece. A collection of random musings of a fiercely contemplative mind rather than a novel. Indeed if you try to read The Book of Disquiet from cover to cover, it is almost oppressively melancholic. Nothing much happens, and what we have is a collection of reveries and thoughts - almost a diary, but not quite - of existential musings about life, loneliness and the human condition. It's so introspective that after a while the monotony of the writer's mundane existence starts to wear on the reader. But I would urge you not to read this book like that. Rather, dip into it at random and you will find a work of undeniable genius.
The Book of Disquiet is written by one of Pessoa's heteronyms, Bernardo Soares, an assistant bookkeeper in a textile company in Lisbon. Indeed we even get an introduction from Pessoa about when he `met' this person.
Sure enough at times Soares/Pessoa comes over as being a bit like Hamlet's more indecisive twin, but the use of language is often profound and frequently mesmerising. It's certainly on the heavy side of the reading scale, but it positively soars in its contemplation of life. "It's like having a cold in the soul" he says. How beautiful is that?
Some of the pieces are simply a single line, others a little longer but few more than a couple of pages. The ideas are often deep, but the language is far from impenetrable.
To give you another example, have you ever had trouble sleeping? How about this then: "Anyone wanting to make a catalogue of monsters would need only to photograph the things the night brings to somnolent souls who cannot sleep".
I could go on picking these superb musings at random. The book is full of them. It's unlike anything else you will have read, and a book that I know that I will dip into frequently. It's a mystery why his work isn't more widely known.
If you are of a contemplative disposition, then this may well be one of those books that truly changes how you see things. It's stunning. I'll leave the last word to Pessoa, which sums up my feelings on this book: "I stare out from the window of my room at the multitudes of stars; at multitudes of stars and nothing, but oh so many stars..."