Book Review: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

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“I created various personalities within myself. I create them constantly. Every dream, as soon as it is dreamed, is immediately embodied by another person who dreams it instead of me.

In order to create, I destroyed myself; I have externalized so much of my inner life that even inside I now exist only externally. I am the living stage across which various actors pass acting out different plays.”

In The Book of Disquiet Fernando Pessoa writes as Bernardo Soares, one of his many heteronyms. Bernardo Soares expresses his thoughts on life, love, art, insomnia…It reads like a journal or a long essay but Soares’ thoughts are incredible and piercing.

I really enjoyed reading this but it was also difficult. There are things that Soares writes I feel like could have come out of my own head, especially his thoughts on solitude and loneliness. Reading his words made me feel like I was understood in a way that I’ve been searching for my whole life. It’s amazing that someone who was born nearly a hundred years before me could feel the way that I feel and had thoughts so similar to mine. But that’s the beauty and power of literature, it transcends distance and time to connect people. Through all of the advances in society and technology, humanity is still essentially the same. Of course, I don’t agree with everything that Soares thinks and writes. There are some things that I just flat out disagree with but having a differing viewpoint rounds out my understanding of Soares. Just like with my friends. I can be friends with people who don’t have the same taste in literature as me, or differing political viewpoints, or different religious viewpoints…I connect with Soares on some things and I don’t on others, it makes his thoughts even more interesting to read.

You know the ‘if you could invite anyone to dinner, even dead people, who would you invite’ question? I would love to have Fernando Pessoa at my dinner table. He has such a fascinating and a truly brilliant mind. I’ve bought a book of his poetry and I can’t wait to read it.