The Book of Disquiet
A modernist masterwork that has now taken on a similar iconic status to Ulysses, The Trial or In Search of Lost Time, Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet is edited and translated with an introduction by Richard Zenith in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Fernando Pessoa, strictly speaking, doesn't exist,' - so claimed Alvaro de Campos, one of the 'heteronyms', fully-realised substitute personalities invented by Fernando Pessoa to spare himself the trouble of living real life. In this extraordinary book, the putative 'factless autobiography' of an accountant named Bernardo Soares, Fernando Pessoa explores and dismantles the nature of memory, identity, time and narrative, creating one of the greatest - but also the strangest - modernist texts. An assembly of sometimes-linked fragments, The Book of Disquiet is a mesmerising, haunting 'novel' without parallel in any other culture.
This edition includes notes on the reconstruction of the text, appendices containing material omitted from the final version and letters which Pessoa intended to incorporate into the text. This edition also includes a table of the 'heteronyms' used by Pessoa in his writing.
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was born in Lisbon and brought up in Durban, South Africa. A prolific writer, ascribing his work to a variety of personas or 'heteronyms', Pessoa published little in his lifetime. Although acknowledged as an intellectual and a poet, his literary genius went largely unrecognised until after his death.
If you enjoyed The Book of Disquiet, you might like Finnegan's Wake, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'One of the twentieth century's greatest literary talents ... This superb edition of The Book of Disquiet is ... a masterpiece'
'Must rank as the supreme assault on authorship in modern European literature'
'Portugal's greatest modern poet ... deals with the only important question in the world, not less important because it is unanswerable: What am I?'