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4.3 out of 5 stars26
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 24 December 2009
Fernando Pessoa remains one of the most enigmatic writers of the 20th Century. Thanks to the recovery of a trunk, full of unpublished manuscripts, and the recognition of the poet's genius, we are slowly beginning to build up a picture of his marvellous universe. Thanks especially to Richard Zenith.

For those familiar with Kierkegaard will recognise the idea of using a false personage to write a piece. In Kierkegaard's case, his numerous alter egos were ways of articulating a subtle and sophisticated truth of our condition. Pessoa, in an imaginary world, read Kierkegaard and went one step further. He invented not just masks (pseudonyms) to write through but gave up authorship to his 'heteronyms', partial personalities who existed with some autonomy and distance from Pessoa himself and had very different views and experiences of life.

Bernando Soares, the eponymous author of The Book of Disquiet, a book-keeper in Lisbon, records his observations of everyday life as if we were walking through an art gallery. He takes a simple gesture, a familiar place and transforms it magically into something more.

It is not a book of desolation (as one reviewer would have it). It is full of delight, mystery and wonder.

Thoroughly recommended.
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on 21 August 2002
I happened upon "The Book of Disquiet" quite by accident in a branch of Waterstones close to where I work, and thought I would pick it up, not really expecting anything momentous from it. After I had spent the first day with it I realised I had been very wrong indeed.
What Pessoa has accomplished is a kind of anti-bible. "The Book of Disquiet" is a hymn to defeatism, obscurity and monotony. Far from being anyone's worst idea of what to write a book about, it is instead a truthful, often painful portrayal of the commonality of all human experience.
It is in my opinion and experience quite unparalled in its insight and ruthless honesty. Utterly unlike anything else in the medium, "The Book of Disquiet" will continue to reverberate long after most works masquerading as "literature" are so many worthless collections of words.
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on 31 May 2001
It's hard to say anything about this book. it's a book that you must read at a certain point, or points, in your life. For me, it's like a cup of cocoa, a nightcap, an antidote. At other times (the wrong times), it's like a suicide pact, a kiss goodbye - all the most pointless thoughts I ever had, justified. This isn't a book to read from beginning to end. That would not work. Instead, it sneaks into ones' subconciousness,twisting and dragging you down(if that is the state the reader is verging on) or up(if that is the state the reader is aiming for). Within all its' 'disquiet', I found an affirmation of life, that, despite all the protestations of the futility of everything, hje still found the time to write. He still found the desire to spread the message that undoubtably, he felt he had to say. And this is where the negativity loses its' push. This is where we find the true Pessoa. He did not want you think that you wanted to die. He did not want you to think that life was futile.He did not want you to go down. All he wanted was for people to see the other side of the fence. The side you are afraid to even LOOK over. Although a consistantly ignored writer as far as English speaking readers are concerned,his desperation of the human state remains universal. So does mine; but at least he's made me laugh at it.
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on 26 October 2008
To give you an example of Pessoa's thinking: on one solitary page of The Book of Disquiet the author remarks that there is nothing more difficult, it is said, to describe a spiral in words; that people find it necessary to use the unliterary hand to depict the object. Pessoa then describes a spiral as a snake without a snake, wound vertically around a branch that isn't there. I am paraphrasing, as it is possible that I have misquoted him slightly, but Pessoa's ability to describe his thoughts should still be evident. This is not a novel, it is instead pages upon pages of lucid fragments of thought and art. It is a pleasure to re and reread it.
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on 2 January 2003
An undiscovered gem, this is one non-linear creation which is more of a diary or notebook than a novel. Something of a 'Meditations' for the 20th century (and still relevant now). This means you'll be hard-put to read it all in one go - partly because there is no story as such to keep you involved, but also because the depth behind these individual passages is such that you will often want to sit back and reflect on them before reading on. Still, this is a truly thought-provoking book that rewards patience and which begs to be dog-eared and highlighted all over.
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on 26 August 2011
Most works of fiction and non fiction celebrate and propagate success! Success in your chosen profession. Success in the amount of money you make. Success with members of the opposite sex. Success in everything you desire in this life. There are plenty of evangelists and miracle men who can even tell you how to succeed in your future life. Or whether you were a success or a failure in your past lives. SUCCESS! Our ego's swelling up like giant balloons. Rising up into the transfixed air. Dazzling the world. Filling the pages of national dailies and history books. Oozing out of television screens.

The Book Of Disquiet celebrates Failure. Loneliness. Disconnect. "Disquiet" -The inability to find contentment, solace or meaning in our everyday life. The never ending search for another world. A world which in all probability will never exist. The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest work of renunciation to have come out of the west. There have been many remarkable texts on renunciation but the human race has always followed a different piper. Collectively we are all aspiring,perspiring and conspiring to possess more and more. The only credo that has a universal appeal is: "Greed is Good and Power is Great".

Nabokov wrote in Speak Memory-"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness." Writers like Fernando Pessoa, Robert Musil, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Marcel Proust, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov widened that crack to let more light pass through into the 20th century.
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on 18 April 2008
This is not a great work of fiction, so look elsewhere if that's what you want. What this book is is quite simply the most honest description of the human condition I've ever read - ever page has something so profoundly true on it that it literally takes one's breath away.

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on 11 June 2014
spiritually soul saving literature one should carry when on a mind-numbing daily grind to the workplace...Tranquil pastures throughout the read...
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on 29 November 2003
The Book of Disquiet : "O livro do Desasossego": This isn't just a book, it's a monument. For all those who can picture Pessoa passing by the streets of Chiado, right in the heart of Lisbon, the words he throws at us readers aren't mere thoughts or meditations. These words are part of Lisbon from the beginning of the twentieth century, a picture of its life. There's a profound connection with what Pessoa writes and his wandering through these once boemic streets. Life in Portugal seemed a dead end; life for Pessoa was that dead end; shattered in his heteronyms; crushed by addiction and a disturbing awareness of his world. "The book of Disquiet" is that dead end; "salvation" is a mirage, all the promises of happiness are for Bernardo Soares (his heteronim in this book) vague and ephemeral - everything is a question; nothing is safe; not even ourselves in front of a mirror (especially ourselves in front of a mirror). One of Pessoa's mirrors is this book, a mirror of his complex self, a mirror of his seemingly decaying society...It's not just isn't supposed to pull you up or take you's just as it is...a nauseating portrait of life...signed by one of the gratest of all times (it's just a pity that people only recognize greatness and they hear this and that about it...)
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on 17 April 2009
This is a difficult book to describe. It isnt a story and doesnt really have any plot or theme. This is like reading the journals of a madman and a genius and a poet rolled into one. The protagonist pours out streams of consciousness, most of them painful or disturbed, the ramblings of an unhappy and tortured soul. Metaphysical, poetic and insightful this is a wonderful piece of literature.
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