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The Book of Disquiet

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  22,625 ratings  ·  2,229 reviews
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 When he died in 1935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquie ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published June 1982)
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mj If you don't speak Portuguese I would recommend the translation by Richard Zenith, as he is of Portuguese descent, editor of one of the Portuguese ver…moreIf you don't speak Portuguese I would recommend the translation by Richard Zenith, as he is of Portuguese descent, editor of one of the Portuguese versions and considered by many one of the greatest Pessoa's expert.(less)
Ryan I can think of a couple of reasons for this:

1) The editor wasn't as exhaustive
The Book of Disquiet is a hodgepodge of different fragmentary ideas, and…more
I can think of a couple of reasons for this:

1) The editor wasn't as exhaustive
The Book of Disquiet is a hodgepodge of different fragmentary ideas, and though there is some editorial freedom in such a concept, Fernando Pessoa did include some notes on which parts he wanted. Future editors, as obsessed as they are with completionism, included more than the author intended sometimes depending on the version. Richard Zenith includes not only fragments Fernando Pessoa didn't want in, but also author notes, and letters to friends concerning the book.

2) Differences in copy-editing
It's possible through the clever use of double-spacing, white spaces, empty pages delineating differences in sections, and differences in counting pages (i.e. making "page one" be an introductory non-authorial textual criticism, rather than with the book's contents itself)- that an editor can pad out the size of a book.

A better way to compare the sizes of different versions would be with word counts.

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Bill Kerwin
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jim Fonseca
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 personalit
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th
Ahmad Sharabiani
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Livro do Desassossego = The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet is a work by the Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935).

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 1935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece.
'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
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthias by: Junta
Shelves: my-reviews, favorites

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 a
Dave Schaafsma
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 Nau
"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 mo
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dreamers, unquiet souls longing for detachment, people unsuccessfully trying to avoid thinking
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
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There you go, friend, you’re ambling amiably across the vast antiseptically postmodern, socially distanced, desolate landscape of Pessoa...

And peaceably enough ensconced in your own little zeitgeist, so much so that you don’t notice he’s got a heavy bludgeoning blackjack poised above your skull...

With your name on it.

And you see, don’t you, that he’s going to clobber you with that steel blackjack, conk you out and deep-six you? No kidding.

He’ll turn you into an Undead Ringwraith.

I mean it!

Mark André
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
(Almost finished.)
“a factless autobiography”
Vivid. Compelling and Sincere.
A remarkable book. For experienced readers.
Manuel Antão
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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 g
Vit Babenco
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Disquiet is incredibly aphoristic – one can take almost any sentence at random and use it as an aphorism…
“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, a distance commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life.”
The Book of Disquiet is an anthem to the futility of life and a hymn of life’s preciousness.
“And so
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Rowena
Flow lightly, life that does not even feel itself, a silent, supple stream beneath forgotten trees! Flow softly, soul that does not know itself, a murmur hidden from view by great fallen branches! Flow vainly, aimlessly, consciousness conscious of nothing, a vague, distant glimmer through leafy clearings, with no known source or destination. Flow on, flow on and leave me to forget!

Flow smoothly, book that does not realize its influence, supple prose poem with ignitions of profundity.
Rakhi Dalal
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People interested in absurdism
Recommended to Rakhi by: Tej

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”

An Orchestra of over 70 musicians, playing their own instruments, each producing an individual sound, a discrete voice, adding up from each corner, playing the distinctive notes of solitude, dream, rain and tedium, rising at one place while falling at another and producing a symphony so striking in its completion that it cannot
David Katzman
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: a book club of intellectuals, fans of Modernist experimentation
Recommended to David by: Oriana
The Book of Disquiet should be read slowly and thoughtfully, savored and sipped like fine wine. It’s a groundbreaking work of Modernist experimentation that consists of a collection of writings found on disorganized scraps of paper in a chest found in the author’s home after his death. These scraps were assembled into a book for the first time in the 1960s. Pessoa, who was Portuguese, wrote the segments over the course of the last twenty years of his life, which ended in 1935.

Pessoa invented mul
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Heternonymy 101

This be possibly the biggest, most self indulgent pre-PoMo existential angst wank fest. Ever. 500 pages of self centered, whiny, petulant, attention seeking, self important and self obsessed essays, which, were they written by a woman, would no doubt have been classed as the insipid diary blather of sexually frustrated spinster in need of a good seeing to.

The main thoroughfare here is a subdued Munchian scream about the ‘tedium’ of life, examined from every angle: a diary of emot
A trifecta of absolute favorites? Well, not favorites. Existence definers, then. I'll have to say though, this self-discovery wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it was with Of Human Bondage or The Magic Mountain. I'd turn a page, and there was one of my innermost thoughts, laid out on the page in all its proud solitude.

Solitude. It takes one intimate with this word and all its facets of life to appreciate this book. The author created an entire world of characters in himself, seeing no journey more i
Emily May
May 23, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics, 2021
God, this was so bad it was almost funny. This is literally just a book full of philosophical emo journal entries.

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

"Each face, even if it belongs to someone we saw only yesterday, is different today simply because today is not yesterday."

"I've just re-read these pages, in which I write with a clarity that will last only as long as they last, and I ask myself: What is this, and what is it for? Who am I when I feel? What dies in me
Steven Godin
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"The magical power of words, whether isolated or brought together to form a musical chord, full of intimate resonances and meanings that diverge even as they converge, the pomp of sentences placed in between the meanings of other sentences, malicious vestiges, hopeful woods, and nothing but the peaceful pools in the childhood gardens of my subterfuges… Thus, between the high walls of absurd audacity, among the lines of trees and the startled shivers of things withering, someone other than me wou
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Like a Version (Touched for the Very First Time)

This is an exceptional book or work or whatever you want to call it.

However, ultimately, I found it both fascinating and (just a little bit) frustrating.

One source of frustration is that, upon completing it, I discovered that the version I had read (translated by Margaret Jull Costa) was 262 pages, whereas the Penguin Classics version (translated by Richard Zenith) is 544 pages. I hate it when this happens. I feel duped. Nothing had forewarned me o
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who prefer thought over action, solitude to company, meaning over happiness
Recommended to Junta by: Aubrey, Dahlia, Florencia and Stian's 5-star reviews
The Review of Disquiet
Ken. O. O. Bach
Edited and Translated by Junta

I was born in a time when possibilities were expanding by the day. However, so did the proportion of young people who lost touch with their dignity. It seems the trend will only continue. Visible and invisible disparities.

I love the idea of myself. I am proud, but not vain. I know my defects are too strong for me to love myself as much as the idea of myself.

The idea of living is tedious. One is much more comfortable living
Julie Christine
The four months it took me to read Fernando Pessoa's posthumously-published collection of thought fragments have been some of the most fraught and chrysalis-splitting days of my adult life. This book will forever be synonymous with transition and grief, exploration and longing. I could read only bits at a time, for Pessoa's struggle to understand the world and his place in it mirrored my own and my many gasps of recognition left me breathless.

Of course, this is not a book to be read in an order
May 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dabbling
I can only speak of this book in hushed, reverential tones. This is one of my most, most, most favorite books, which I've been reading for years and still have not finished. It's like an endless diary of daily life, written by the strangest, most deleriously unhappy (but sometimes happy), brilliant (but sometimes simple), intensely thoughtful old man.

Pessoa is best known for writing poetry using "heteronyms," meaning that essentially he had multiple personalities who all were writers. He never
MJ Nicholls
The Book of Disquiet is a LiveJournal blog as written by E.M. Cioran or Albert Camus.

Bernardo Soares, Pessoa’s leading alter-ego, imagines “the corpse of [his] prose” being “lowered into general oblivion” upon his death. This might have been the case had not archivists rescued his fragmented idlings from the black void and published them in this volume.

It strikes me, given Soares’s desire for extinction, and the delusion of posterity, that this selection of writing is redundant. What impact can
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Disquiet is less a novel, more the diary of a sensitive and reflective outsider: a dreamer, who compulsively chronicles his contemplations, believing them to be the true manifestation of his soul (ignore the awkward blundering fool who stands before you, these words are the real me!); who lives apart from humanity and imagines a future in which his genius will finally be understood and celebrated... Is it any wonder this book is so beloved by writers?

Much has already been written of
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice. .
It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day (in a future to which I won’t belong) 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 far from being born into it, I’ll have already died long ago. I’ll be understood only in effigy,
David Lentz
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"B of D" is a work of pure genius written in gloriously lyrical, existential prose: it wants to be poetry and, at times, it is.

Pessoa is a profoundly introspective and honest writer who defined existential themes based upon his frank study of his own life and dreams: it's possible that Pessoa is the most honest writer who ever lived. He is highly self-critical, self-effacing and suffers from the "disquiet" of his simple life as a bookkeeper in Lisbon. He wrote "B of D" in that richly germinal l
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
In your mind, picture an old man who dines in a nearby cafe everyday. He works in an office as a bookkeeper, probably few years before his retirement. He is living alone in his apartment a block away from that cafe. You oftentimes eat in that restaurant and whenever you do, you see him on that chair facing the window, silently eating the same meal, talking to no one except nodding to the waitress and once in a while glancing at the view outside.

You hesitate to talk to him. Probably he seems to
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Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa was a poet and writer.

It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese, had three alter egos who wrote in styles completely different from his own. In fact Pessoa wrote under dozens of names, but Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de

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