Portugal: Hauntingly Beautiful and Sad, yet so Hopeful

I have read many books throughout this challenge, most genres available, and most definitely many books outside of my comfort zone. I am a big fan of the writings of Oscar Wilde, and sadly I haven’t found another author I could even at my bravest moment compare to Wilde. Not until now! It was a delight to read The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.

“All I ask from life is that it asks nothing of me.” Bernando Soares, the protagonist in this book, is an assistant bookkeeper in Lisbon, and he is thought to be Fernando Pessoa in many ways. Pessoa never finished the book, and it was published posthumously. Soares is a dreamer, not a doer. He thinks about buying books that he would never read. He is also a loner, a deep thinker. He seems to be spending a lot of time thinking about life, the big questions, but also the very small ones.

I guess Soares was some sort of an alter ego to Pessoa, the hidden face, or some part of Pessoa that people were not familiar with. Apparently he suffered from depression while writing the book, and he had a hard time focusing long term on it. Maybe it was never meant to be published, or if it was, maybe it was not meant to be published in the way we read it nowadays. We will never know. I am still grateful that this book exists.

Literary people have not even found consensus on which genre this book belongs to. I would still call it a novel, but in the end, does it really matter? It is hauntingly beautiful at times, deeply sad at others, but yet so hopeful. “I dream because I dream”. Indeed, no point in adding anything to that! It is a book that has to be read, not described to others. 

I can understand that not everyone would enjoy this book. People who do not enjoy Wilde of Kafka (I have heard of people like that…) would most likely not enjoy this book. For me it is enlightening and it opens up new ways for me to think. It is just so inspiring in the end. Reading a book like this does something to me I cannot explain, nor do I want to. “To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”

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