Lee Foust's Reviews > The Book of Disquiet

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
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I am so angry at Fernando Pessoa. In fact I am no longer speaking to him.

I am furious that he would write such passages of sublime beauty and brilliance and then throw them to the dogs of his own indifference, as well as tainting them with other semi-literary juvenile snit-fits, poorly reasoned passages of pop theology, and endlessly repetitious variations on the same themes that have given the word "tedium" a whole new meaning for me these last weeks. Even the junkie authors, Alexander Trocchi, Anna Kavan, and William Burroughs had more care and respect for their work than did Pessoa for The Book of Disquiet. Even the jailbirds Cervantes, Genet, and Boethius managed to leave us with amazingly coherent and complete works of great literature between torture sessions, amputations, and execution. Even authors who struggled and labored with day jobs, with poverty and neglect, with opium addiction and children in double-digits have managed to edit their work into sublime and coherent readability. But, you, Fernando, you locked your lopsided fragments into a trunk and pissed on it on your way to an alcohol-soaked early grave.

Why should I give your work any more respect than you gave it?

Your editors tried. At half the length of the original MS apparently this edition/translation of your alienated and misanthropic musings is still at least twice as long as it needs to be. Even so, you are still your own harshest critic--which one-ups me I will admit--so I hereby allow you to have the semi-last word on the agony that your book inflicted on me, the sorrow it made me feel for a lost great work of literature that never was because you refused to actually write it, preferring to hint at its greatness and then to toss it into the waste can of oblivion:

"During one of those periods of sleepless somnolence in which we entertain ourselves intelligently enough without recourse to our intelligence, I re-read some of the pages which, when put together, will make up my book of random impressions. And there rises from them, like a familiar smell, an arid sense of monotony..." (pg. 1167)

Beautiful, brilliant, often silly, misguided, tragic, proclaiming itself worthless, alienated, self-aggrandizing, melodramatic at times, and finally, like a tug of war with itself, drowned in its own sludge, I will always think of you as the bi-polar book.
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Reading Progress

February 11, 2013 – Started Reading
February 11, 2013 – Shelved
February 11, 2013 –
page 4
1.53% "Only 4 pages in but I can already see that this is one of those books that changes the way one thinks, that changes one's life--so excited!"
February 14, 2013 –
page 69
February 16, 2013 –
page 98
February 20, 2013 –
page 151
February 22, 2013 –
page 163
March 9, 2013 –
page 176
March 25, 2013 –
page 200
April 7, 2013 –
page 212
April 12, 2013 –
page 220
April 14, 2013 –
page 229
April 25, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 2: by Lee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lee Foust But also a lot of praise! I'd still take it over many, many bland and formula books that I can think of.

Forrest Great review. I DNF'd it.

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