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Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology, and horoscope. When he died in 1935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, an astonishing work that, in George Steiner’s words, “gives to Lisbon the haunting spell of Joyce’s Dublin or Kafka’s Prague.”

Published for the first time some fifty years after his death, this unique collection of short, aphoristic paragraphs comprises the “autobiography” of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa’s alternate selves. Part intimate diary, part prose poetry, part descriptive narrative, captivatingly translated by Richard Zenith, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.

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About the Author
Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) was born in Lisbon and raised in Durban, South Africa. He attended the University of Cape Town, where he won the Queen Victoria Prize for English Essay. Pessoa wrote under more than 75 pseudonyms, many of which he developed into “heteronyms,” characters endowed with their own biographies, physiques, personalities, political views, religious attitudes, and literary pursuits, all capable of reviewing each other’s work in the literary journals of the time. The author of poetry collections, including 35 Sonnets and Mensagem, he was a leading light in Portugal’s Modernist movement. He also invented several movements, including “Intersectionism” and “Sensationism.”

GREG RAKOZY WILL BEESTON

 

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