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The Book of Disquiet
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Archive In Translation > 2018 April Classic in Translation:Portuguese: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5590 comments Mod
The Book of Disquiet (Livro do Desassossego: Composto por Bernardo Soares, ajudante de guarda-livros na cidade de Lisboa) is a work by the Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935). Published posthumously, The Book of Disquiet is a fragmentary lifetime project, left unedited by the author, who introduced it as a "factless autobiography."

"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, tr. by Alfred Mac Adam.


message 2: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I have read a few pages and have already noticed the digressions. It is fascinating so far, and I have no idea where it is going, but I plan to find out.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I have almost finished the first chapter and find the narrator a fascinating but very lonely person who lives in a dream world when he is not working at his job.
It is a very impressionistic chapter, with the descriptions of the sounds he hears in the street and in other apartments in the building in which he leaves.
I also get a sense of his sadness, alienation and lack of hope for the future, which reminds of some of the French existentialist authors I have read.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
The second chapter is a reflective, introspective, with the theme being a rainy night in Lisbon.


message 5: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I am almost finished part two, which is a lyrical, melancholy exploration of Lisbon skies at various parts of the year and day, as well as a further glimpse into the empty, lonely life of the narrator. I am enjoying the vivid descriptions of the city and the sky.


message 6: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
In the third section we find out one of the reasons why the narrator is lonely. His mother died when he was very young and he never knew her.


message 7: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
He never knew his father, who died when he was three, so he was raised by no one who truly loved him. This helps to explain his solitude and inability to have emotional relationships with others. He is a real Outsider.


message 8: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire  | 241 comments I just started reading. It gives indeed a very lonely and sad impression.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I am still in part three, in which we learn more about his lonely childhood. He says in one part that he had no one to play with at recess, which is devastating for a little child.


message 10: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5590 comments Mod
Is that why the title?


message 11: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I think so. The narrator's life is so bleak. But in chapter 2 the descriptions of Lisbon and the skies in all types of weather are beautiful. He creates a special mood in that chapter.
The book reminds of when I studied French literature in university, and the prof talked about the theme of alienation. This book certainly exemplifies this theme.
The narrator seems like a lost little boy alone in the world.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
Chapter 3 is the most confusing so far since we spend most of the time reading the author's thoughts, which are interwoven with descriptions of nature and thoughts of his childhood.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
In part four, on the first page, the word "contingencies", contingences in French, appears. This is one of the key words of the existentialists of the 60s.


message 14: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5590 comments Mod
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message 15: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I have finished section four, which contains many of the author's thoughts. After reading this part, I can see why this is considered an important book, since there are so many quotable comments about life, art, politics, etc.
The narrator makes many references to looking at life through windows, which seems to show that he is an on-looker on life instead of a participant, living in dreams anf day-dreams.


message 16: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
In section five, the author talks about travelling. I agree with his comments on travel writing, but not on travelling itself. I love to travel but he his own special opinion on travelling that differs from mine.


message 17: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (last edited May 08, 2018 05:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
In section six, the increasingly unreliable narrator talks about love, loneliness, sadness and art.
Even though nothing really happens in this book, it is so fascinating, for me anyway, that I am continuing on with it.
Only one more section to go.


message 18: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
The book ends on an elegiac note, with the rain clearing up and the early evening sky is brightening over Lisbon.

The last section was one of the most interesting for me because he talks about reading, writing, creativity and the worth of art.

Throughout the book, I sensed the narrator's loneliness and melancholy, which was not depressing because of the beautiful (at times) language and the lovely descriptions of the sky, clouds and rain.


message 19: by Ana (new)

Ana | 80 comments Hello there! 

Firstly I'd like to thank the Mods for picking this fabulous Portuguese Author. 

In Lisbon, there's a statue of Fernando Pessoa. He was born there. 

Fernando Pessoa suffered from schizophrenia. Over 70 heteronymous were created, within himself, due to this mental disorder. In other words: over 70 different writing styles, within one man only. Bernardo Soares was the heteronymous who wrote The Book of Disquiet. Bernardo Soares was "ajudante de guarda livros" - a fictional character. 

O Livro do Desassossego (The Book of Disquiet) is a very challenging book that took 20years to be done, it is the most important book of F. Pessoa, but the author never actually finished it.


message 20: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I could see the love he had for his native city as I was reading his descriptions of the views from his window. It seemed that he was always observing life, and not living it. He writes beautifully.


message 21: by Ana (last edited May 11, 2018 07:11AM) (new)

Ana | 80 comments F. Pessoa writes very deeply, probably due to his mental condition, who knows......
I came across The Book of Disquiet in high school, but i don't remember much. I'll get back to it one day :)


message 22: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André I’m sorry I wasn’t around to participate in this read. I read it this spring also. I consider it one of the most remarkable books I have ever read. And I was shocked to learn that it was fiction. The book fits into no cubbyhole I have ever known. And even though the author/authors sound very lonely I found the overall tone incredibly uplifting though I’m not at all sure why. I read the New Directions, Costa translation.


message 23: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8264 comments Mod
I plan on reading more books by this author.


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