Fernando Pessoa in Oslo

Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.

                                                -  Fernando Pessoa


Fernando Pessoa – Book of Disquiet 


Christian Kjelstrup rented a store in Oslo for one week in March for the sole purpose of selling a book.


Yes, a book. Just one.


The Book of Disquiet by the Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa, his favourite book, “the best book in the world.” People seemed to like the idea, too, because he ended up selling more than a thousand copies and even the Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit stopped in to buy a copy. Popularity of the book has certainly soared in Norway. One newspaper article mentioned a library which had lent out all fourteen copies of their copies of this book, with another eleven people on the waiting list!


I remembered that I had a copy of this book on my shelf and pulled it down to take a look. I can’t remember why or where I bought it or why I haven’t read it yet, but it might have been right around the time we started to build houses and move around, and this is the type of book you need to concentrate on, really pay attention to the words itself without too many distractions. At any rate, I opened it up at random last week and after reading just two pages, it became clear that even though I do not usually write in my books, I could see how this one would be the kind that gets marked up a lot.


The Book of Disquiet (Livro de Desassossego) was published posthumously in 1982 and it is not a novel in the classic sense, but rather a collection of reflections written by Bernardo Soares (one of Pessoa’s pseudonyms); the author introduced it as a ‘factless autobiography’. There are countless essays to be found online about this work, pages and pages of descriptions and comments such as ‘life-changing’. This all does make one very curious about this work, does it not?

My copy has not been reshelved; it is staying out on the coffee table to be dipped into now and then.



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