Nicholas Lativy

The Book of Disquiet

From jumbled scraps of paper found in the trunk of Fernando Pessoa after his 1935 demise The Book of Disquiet is formed. Written as the character, or heteronym, of Bernardo Soares the book is an intimate diary concerned not with external reality but with the world of the mind. The book has few characters or locations and no plot; each brief chapter is a stand-alone meditation on the human condition. As Soares puts it: “along with all the other great unfortunates, I’ve always believed it better to think than to live.”

Apocalyptic Feeling

Soares often writes of himself as being half awake and half asleep and The Book of Disquiet is characterised by this mood. Soares drifts through the streets and daydreams through his mundane work. Despite the tedium which is the book’s primary concern each page is exquisitely written and is often moving, inspiring and even funny. Ultimately I cannot do justice to the brilliance that is The Book of Disquiet, I can only implore you to buy it and discover for yourself. As Philip Pullman recommends on the cover of my Serpent’s Tail edition: this is the book to read when you wake at 3am and can’t get back to sleep.

“These are the thoughts that occur to me standing at my high window watching the slow end of evening, feeling the dissatisfaction of the bourgeois I am not and the sadness of the poet I can never be.”

If you’re still not convinced you can peruse a chapter or two for free on Google Books.