When Fernando Pessoa died in 1935 he left behind a trunk containing over 25,000 items a vast collection of poems, fragments, letters, journals. These pieces were ascribed to a variety of writers - the heteronyms or assumed identities Pessoa had created over the course of his extravagant written life. Attributed to the heteronym Bernado Soares, THE ...Read MoreWhen Fernando Pessoa died in 1935 he left behind a trunk containing over 25,000 items a vast collection of poems, fragments, letters, journals. These pieces were ascribed to a variety of writers - the heteronyms or assumed identities Pessoa had created over the course of his extravagant written life. Attributed to the heteronym Bernado Soares, THE BOOK OF DISQUIET is perhaps best described as an 'anti-literature'. Written in exquisite, painful detail, this is a collection of fragments, an 'autobiography of one who never lived'. Richard Zenith has drawn on his own intimate knowledge of the original manuscripts to produce a beautiful and captivating translation of one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-09 When Pessoa died in 1935, a few years short of 50, he left behind a trunk of mostly unpublished writing in a variety of languages; his Lisbon publishers and variously translators are still sifting them. This perpetually unclassifiable and unfinished book of self-reflective fragments was first published in Portuguese in 1982, and it is arguably Pessoa's masterpiece. Four previous English translations, all published in 1991, were compromised either by abridgement, poor translation or error-laden source texts. While he's now a Pessoa veteran-having edited and translated Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems, the 1999 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation winner-Zenith's first pass at this book was one of the four misses. He bases this new translation on his own Portuguese edition of 1998, and has done an admirable job in bringing out the force and clarity in Pessoa's serpentine and sometimes opaque meditations. Pessoa often wrote as various personae (as Pessoa & Co. carefully demonstrated); Disquiet is no exception, being putatively the work of "Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon." Thus it is impossible to ascribe the book's anti-humanist logophilia directly to the author: "I weep over nothing that life brings or takes away, but there are pages of prose that have made me cry." That is just one of many permutations of similar sentiments, but the genius of Pessoa and his personae is that readers are left weighing each and every such sentence for sincerity and truth value. (Dec. 3) Forecast: The release of this book as part of the newly redesigned Penguin Classics series should further assure Pessoa's place in the modernist pantheon. Pessoa and Co. was well reviewed, but the fact that Disquiet's previous appearances in English were relatively recent may limit review attention. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1991-05-17 Pessoa (1888-1935), identified by Barnard professor MacAdam as Portugal's major 20th-century writer, seems to have interpreted Whitman's statement ``I contain multitudes'' as an imperative; the gifted and perfectionist poet gave voice to a variety of selves, whom he named not with pseudonyms but with what he called heteronyms. The elegant volume here is the ``diary'' of ``Bernardo Soares,'' presented as a bookkeeper, like Pessoa, who is obsessed with the role and aim of literature and tries, therefore, to become ``like a character in a book, a read life.'' No plot orders the entries, nor is there any discernible progression. Instead, Pessoa speculates on the paradoxes of art (``Only when I'm disguised am I really myself''), at times mordantly (``To speak is to have too much consideration for others. Both fish and Oscar Wilde die because they can't keep their mouths shut''), at times quixotically (``Writing is like the drug I despise but take, the vice I loathe but practice''), nearly always aphoristically. Readers with a particular interest in modernism will find this work indispensable. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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