The Book of Disquiet


  • Author: Fernando Pessoa
  • Full Title: The Book of Disquiet
  • Category: #books


  • We can leaf through The Book of Disquiet as through a lifelong sketchbook revealing the artist in all his heteronymic variety. Or we may read it as a travel journal, a book of random impressions’ (Text 442), Pessoa’s faithful companion throughout his literary odyssey that never left Lisbon. Or we may see it as the factless autobiography’ (Text 12) of a man who dedicated his life to not living, who cultivated hatred of action like a greenhouse flower’ (Text 103).

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  • Had Pessoa prepared his Livro do Desassossego (The Book of Disquiet) for publication, it would have been a smaller book. He planned to make a rigorous’ selection from among all the texts he had written, to adapt the older ones to the true psychology’ of Bernardo Soares, and to undertake an overall revision of the style’ (see the note’ in Appendix III). This operation would have resulted in a smooth, polished book with perhaps half as many pages, and perhaps half as much genius. Purged of whatever was fragmentary and incomplete, the book would have gained novelistic virtues such as plot and dramatic tension, but it would have run the risk of becoming just another book, instead of what it remains: a monument as wondrous as it is impossible.

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  • Money is beautiful, because it frees us. To want to die in Peking and not be able to is one of the things that weigh on me like a feeling of impending doom. The buyers of useless things are wiser than is commonly supposed — they buy little dreams. They become children in the act of acquisition. When people with money succumb to the charms of those useless little objects, they possess them with the joy of a child gathering sea shells on the beach — the image that best expresses the child’s happiness. He gathers shells on the beach! No two are ever alike for a child. He falls asleep with the two prettiest ones in his hand, and when they’re lost or taken from him (A crime! They’ve made off with outward bits of his soul! They’ve stolen pieces of his dream!), he weeps like a God robbed of a just-created universe.

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  • Every pleasure is a vice, because to seek pleasure is what everyone does in life, and the only black vice is to do what everyone else does.

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