The Book of Disquiet (Serpent's Tail Classics) Paperback – 6 May 2010
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In a time which celebrates fame, success, stupidity, convenience and noise, here is the perfect antidote (John Lanchester Daily Telegraph)
A meandering, melancholic series of reveries and meditations. Pessoa's amazing personality is as beguiling and mysterious as his unique poetic output (William Boyd)
Disturbs from beginning to end... There is a distinguished mind at work beneath the totally acceptable dullness of clerking. The mind is that of Pessoa. We must be given the chance to learn more about him (Anthony Burgess Observer)
A complete masterpiece, the sort of book one makes friends with and cannot bear to be parted with. Boredom informs it, but not boringly. Pessoa loved the minutiae of what we care to deem the ordinary life, and that love enriches and deepens his art (Paul Bailey Independent)
The very book to read when you wake at 3am and can't get back to sleep - mysteries, misgivings, fears and dreams and wonderment. Like nothing else. (Philip Pullman)
Fernando Pessoa was simply one of the best 20th-century writers ever... captivating... a series of beautifully wistful reminiscences, diary entries ad aphoristic snippets... an accessibly slimmed down and beautifully translated version of this great classic and we recommend it like crazy. Pick one up and open it anywhere and we promise you'll be richly rewarded. (Stuart Hammond Dazed and Confused 2010-05-01)
To read and then contemplate him is to be lifted a little bit above the earth in a floating bubble. One becomes both of the world and not of it. There's no one like him, apart from all of us. (Nicholas Lezard Guardian 2010-05-22)
An odd, occasionally exasperating and sometimes beautiful book and one that will be your friend at 3am on a sleepless night. (Sophia Martelli Observer 2010-10-17)
A prize-winning international classic, first published in English by Serpent's Tail in 1993, now with a new introduction by William BoydSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the strengths of this Serpent's Tail Classics edition is the brief introduction by William Boyd that puts Pessoa's life work into context. 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.
Pessoa's works were found in a trunk after his death. The prose writings here were in no discernable order and largely undated. So how you put them together is doubtless a source of great debate for Pessoa academics. There is no `right' order. Similarly the works have been translated into English by several people. The translation in this edition is by Margaret Jull Costa, widely accepted as the best translation and indeed it is remarkable how beautiful the writing is in places.
This Serpent's Tail Classics edition, edited by Maria José de Lancastre, attempts to put 257 different pieces of writing into a rough order by subject matter. These appear logical although there's no clear marking of the apparent subject matter making it more difficult to relocate the quote you are looking for.Read more ›
Pessoa touches on universal themes such as Love, Friendship, Dreams, Ambition, Faith and the after life - gliding with effortless skill through ideas that are very complex and recondite. The tone can sometimes seem quite melancholy, but I think Pessoa is playing devil's advocate rather than voicing any deeply held belief - and questions life and all its burdens as if on behalf of the reader. As such it is a joy to read, it transcends the page and you feel the words stir the soul with a power and skill that all the great writers possess.
It is a thought provoking read - that leaves you thinking long after you put it down and challenges the reader to look beyond mundane existence and focus on what Pessoa frequently refers too as the journey. He draws the attention of the reader from the everyday and routine, to a spiritual and meta-physical level that is rarely addressed in an increasingly secular world.
"Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is in the spirit that it is experienced."
With this quality and skill with words, Pessoa takes the reader to new heights - it is certainly a challenging book to read, but the reward is more than worth the effort.
The kind of book, like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, that one should dip into here and there, now and then, for spiritual succour.
Superb. A keeper for life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is probably my favourite book ever. Pessoa masterfully dips in and out of the melancholic nature of life and provides a heart wrenching analysis of his surroundings. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sarah
This is arguably one of the most disquieting yet illuminating books I have read. Pessoa is what I would call an anti-realist, almost solipsist in his outlook, with his writing... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bakunin
An almost stream of consciousness poetic pseudo diary, a tale of a wandering flaneur, maybe never intended for publication but literature is forever enhanced by this being... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Dylan35