The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition

I held the belief that one perfect work is enough to give an artist the taste of immortality, after death, if not while alive. The Book of Disquiet made me rethink my stance. Even an unfinished book, a jumble of notes rather, can do full justice to its name and can place the author among the best of the best.

So, what kind of book is it? It is NOT an autobiography. At least not in the sense we use this term. It is an autobiography of a Heteronym[1] of Pessoa. Then also, it is not an autobiography as we know. It is, as aptly put in the preface, a biography without events.

Without events, but not without thoughts or feelings. Pessoa is a man of both the 19th and 20th centuries. Myths are just stories, gods are long dead. A modern man, thinking man, could not believe in God any more. Yet, nothing is there to replace God with. Morality, ethics, everything was in dire need of redefinition. This void, along with long-standing unanswered questions in philosophy, blended into a disquieting lament. Anguish, profound anguish, but not for happiness but freedom from even the need for happiness.

Most of the entries are introspective. Only a handful of them deals with the exterior and even in those entries exterior is only a backdrop. All of them are monologues, are streams of consciousness flowing naturally, beautifully. And it is disquieting. Disquieting to the point where you might question the life you lived by far, the reality as we know it, and all the values handed down to us.

Notes and Highlights
About The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

The Book of Disquiet is one of the great literary works of the twentieth century. Written over the course of Fernando Pessoa's life, it was first published in 1982, pieced together from the thousands of individual manuscript pages left behind by Pessoa after his death in 1935. Now this fragmentary modernist masterpiece appears in a major new edition that unites Margaret Jull Costa's celebrated translation with the most complete version of the text ever produced. It is presented here, for the first time in English, by order of original composition, and accompanied by facsimiles of the original manuscript.Narrated principally by an assistant bookkeeper named Bernardo Soares - an alias of sorts for Pessoa himself - The Book of Disquiet is 'the autobiobraphy of someone who never existed', a mosaic of dreams, of hope and despair; a hymn to the streets and cafés of 1930s Lisbon, and an extraordinary record of the inner life of one of the century's most important writers. This new edition represents the most complete vision of Pessoa's genius.

  1. A heteronym is not only a character, but it is also a more intimate thing, an extension of Pessoa. ↩︎