0642 |The Book of Disquiet | Fernando Pessoa


Less than halfway through his bundle of tedium, Pessoa says

Let the plotless novel come to an end

If only …

Instead, Pessoa moans on and on for another half of his eternity.

It wouldn’t be so bad but Pessoa himself undermines his own work by attempting to dismantle such commonly held (and therefore suspect?) beliefs such as truth and opinion. Anyone who takes him seriously would therefore have to dismiss anything he says as worthless. I didn’t need to be forced.

It has been compared to Musil’s epic Man Without Qualities. That’s a stretch. Yes, they’re both authors focussed on how we cope with the tragedy of being human, but at least Musil can do more than have his protagonist stare out of a window.

Whereas Musil was a master of satire, Pessoa is a master of misery. Nothing is really praiseworthy, nothing is really beautiful, and nothing is really worth it in the end. Had we only The Book of Disquiet to inform our lives, there really wouldn’t be any point in going any further. Thankfully for us all, we have.

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