The Book of Disquiet


Teresa Sobral Cunha considers that there are two Books Of Disquietude. According to the expert that organized, along with Jacinto do Prado Coelho and Maria Aliete Galhoz, the first edition edited in 1982, there are two authors of this book: Vicente Guedes in a first phase (in the 10's and the 20's) and the aforementioned Bernardo Soares (late 20's and the 30's).

However, António Quadros considers that the first phase of the book belongs to Pessoa. The second phase, more personal and diary-like, is the one belonging to Bernardo Soares.

Richard Zenith, editor of a new Portuguese edition, in 1998, took the option of a single volume, as in his first translation, back in 1991. In his introduction, he wrote that «If Bernardo Soares does not measure up to the full Pessoa, neither are his diary writings the sum total of Disquietude, to which he was after all a johnny-comelately. The Book of Disquietude was various books (yet ultimately one book), with various authors (yet ultimately one author), and even the word disquietude changes meaning as time passes».[2]

George Steiner on The Book Of Disquiet:

«The fragmentary, the incomplete is of the essence of Pessoa's spirit. The very kaleidoscope of voices within him, the breadth of his culture, the catholicity of his ironic sympathies – wonderfully echoed in Saramago's great novel about Ricardo Reis – inhibited the monumentalities, the self-satisfaction of completion. Hence the vast torso of Pessoa's Faust on which he laboured much of his life. Hence the fragmentary condition of The Book of Disquiet which contains material that predates 1913 and which Pessoa left open-ended at his death. As Adorno famously said, the finished work is, in our times and climate of anguish, a lie. It was to Bernardo Soares that Pessoa ascribed his Book of Disquiet, first made available in English in a briefer version by Richard Zenith in 1991. The translation is at once penetrating and delicately observant of Pessoa's astute melancholy. What is this Livro do Desassossego? Neither 'commonplace book', nor 'sketchbook', nor 'florilegium' will do. Imagine a fusion of Coleridge's notebooks and marginalia, of Valery's philosophic diary and of Robert Musil's voluminous journal. Yet even such a hybrid does not correspond to the singularity of Pessoa's chronicle. Nor do we know what parts thereof, if any, he ever intended for publication in some revised format.[3] »

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