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The Book of Disquiet - The Complete Edition

The Book of Disquiet - The Complete Edition

Author: Fernando Pessoa; Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
$25.00(NZD)  inc GST
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"How often it pains me not to be some other banal individual, whose life, because it is not mine, fills me with longing. I envy in everyone the fact that they are not me," wrote Fernando Pessoa as Vicente Guedes in what is now considered the ‘first phase’ of The Book of Disquiet, a vast assortment of passages found unedited on variously sized pieces of paper in a trunk after Pessoa’s death in 1935 and variously selected, assembled and translated and made into books by various persons presuming the intentions of Pessoa (though what his intentions were for this material is far from clear). This new and first complete edition assembles the fragments in chronological order for the first time (so far as this can be determined), allowing us to take a cast of Pessoa’s thinking in the two ‘phases’ of the book (or, rather, ‘book’). The first phase contains material written by Pessoa as Vicente Guedes from 1913 to 1920, and the second phase contains material written as Bernardo Soares in the early 1930s, possibly intended to subsume the material previously written as Guedes (the Soares material being more descriptive, lighter in tone than the first section, almost glibber, Pessoa-as-Soares writing almost as someone who has read Pessoa-as-Guedes and seeking to make Guedes’s ideas his own). Pessoa contributed to Portuguese literature under 81 identified heteronyms, pseudonyms and personae (see the list here), each with a distinct style and intellectual life. The first ‘phase’ of The book of Disquiet as it now stands is a sustained if dissipated assault on identity, especially as thought of by a person when thinking of themselves. “Your real life, your human life, does not belong to you but to others. In all your real-life actions, you do not live, you are being lived,” writes Guedes. The constraints of identity are imposed from without, are socially determined, are a trap for the spirit. True liberation, for Pessoa (if any opinion can be attributed to Pessoa himself, beyond that of the heteronyms), is only achieved by withdrawal of the actual self from the world (if such a self can be said to exist) so completely as to allow the construction of personae to do the living for them, leaving their author in immaculate isolation and absolute indifference. “I myself don’t know if the ‘I’ I am setting before you really exists. I live aesthetically in another being. I have sculpted my life like a statue made of a material alien to myself. Sometimes I don’t even recognise me, so alien to myself have I become,” writes Guedes. One rather sketchy passage describes the requisite method of progressive isolation, disengagement and intensification of the imaginative faculties (through a stage in which imagining a battle produces “actual bruises”), becomes logically fraught, peters out with the note “Certain difficulties,” and then gathers luminously into the object of the thread of thought, the creation of new selves: “We will be able to create at second hand. We will imagine ourselves a poet writing, and he will write in one style, while another [imagined] poet might write in another, and so on, all of them original,” each creating or accessing a private reality otherwise unachievable.“In the presence of ourselves we are never alone, we are witness to ourselves, and it is therefore important to act always as we would before a stranger. We can never be at ease.” Pessoa writes as another person about the inauthenticity of their identity, of the clinamen of personality, of the heteronyms' creation of further heteronyms that presumably could not have been created by Pessoa himself (and so forth). The outsourcing of the business of living to fictional persons does not come without its “dangers to the spirit”: lassitude, loneliness, boredom, emptiness. A protective ‘mist’ drifts through the book (in ‘real life’, Pessoa supplemented this mist with alcohol). “If the mist dissipates, all hard surfaces bruise the part of me that knows them to be hard. It is as if someone were using my life to beat me with.” But in the absence of authenticity, every fiction is valid, every speculation true, every reality virtual. “I lie recumbent in my life, and I do not even know how to dream the gesture of getting up.” 



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.
Stock Information

General Fields

  • : 9781781258644
  • : Serpent's Tail Limited
  • : Serpent's Tail Limited
  • : August 2018
  • : ---length:- '19.8'width:- '12.9'units:- Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : English
  • : 869.84107
  • : 432
  • : Fernando Pessoa; Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
  • : Paperback