Voices: António Fonseca, Richard Zenith, Jerónimo Pizarro, Pablo Javier Pérez López, Pedro Sepúlveda and Sofia Saldanha
Pessoa, Fernando, The Book of Disquiet. Edited and translated by Richard Zenith. London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 2001
7. Sometimes I think I'll never leave the Rua dos Douradores
Street sounds, church bell
Bernardo Soares: “Sometimes I think I'll never leave the Rua dos Douradores. And having written this, it seems to me eternity.”
Sofia: The Book of Disquiet is a kind of diary. It's written by mythical author Bernardo Soares.
Richard Zenith: The Book of Disquiet mainly contains the thoughts and feelings of Fernando Pessoa. And so he says that Bernardo Soares, the author of the Book of Disquiet was a semi-heteronym, because it was not quite another, he was semi-Pessoa, quite like him.
Forest, wind, echoes
Richard Zenith: The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa began to write it in 1913 without knowing what it would become, isn’t that it? Then he began to write passages that were sometimes like visions, medieval scenes, virgin ladies, symbolic, non-existent.
Jerónimo Pizarro: And I'm pretty sure that the Book of Disquiet in its first phase, which is a more decadent phase, is very close to the language of Mário de Sá-Carneiro.
Sofia: The book was written in two phases. A first phase between 1913 and 1920. The first excerpt "In the Forest of Estrangements" was published in 1913 in the magazine Águia.
Jerónimo Pizarro: The Forest of Estrangement had no characters; there wasn’t really an author. The Forest of Estrangement is even signed by Fernando Pessoa. It’s a lost forest in time and space.
Forest, wind, echoes
Richard Zenith: Then in 1914 Vicente Guedes became the protagonist. And this Vicente Guedes, according to some passages was also a bookkeeper and worked in downtown Lisbon.
Jerónimo Pizarro: The book is interrupted for a long time, 10 years or so. And when it reappears in 1929 is already another book. It's another book because we no longer have those unidentified forests, the alienation and the self-absorption. And Fernando Pessoa’s isolation is not as present as before. In 1929, something that wasn’t there before emerges: Lisbon emerges.
Street sounds, fado music playing on the street
Richard Zenith: And in this second phase, when he wrote intensely until 1934, he comes with a new protagonist to the book and his name is Bernardo Soares.
Jerónimo Pizarro: The book of the late 1920s is a book in which we have Rua dos Douradores, which became famous, where there is downtown Lisbon, where the trams appear, where there are cats, where we meet Senhor Moreira, and the head of office. Concrete things that were clearly not there before. And this second book is no longer a book that a Sá-Carneiro reader would read, it still has expressionist parts in it, but it is from a reader who has moved away in time, from the first modernism.
Footsteps on marble stairs
Jerónimo Pizarro: and he is trying to write in another way, a way in which Cesário Verde had already tried to respond to the romantic tendencies.
Airplane passing overhead
Pablo Javier Pérez López: It is a deeply philosophical book and it has to do with the geographic soul of the city and the soul of the inhabitant of the city of Lisbon. Also the great subject of the Book of Disquiet is the journey in time, but also the journey through being. He travels through his own essence.
Sofia: In his lifetime Pessoa only published 12 excerpts from the Book of Disquiet. Everything else was packed in an trunk with over 30,000 papers. The compilation of the texts was first published in 1982. Pessoa left some ideas about how to organise the book, but he never made up his mind. So in each new edition the order of the texts change.
Pedro Sepúlveda: The editor has to make a series of decisions, such as, do the texts belong to the book or not, what order will they take in the book, if the author is Bernardo Soares or Fernando Pessoa, or Vicente Guedes or both or whether the organization should be thematic or chronological.
Church bells, street sounds
Sofia: We can’t know for sure if Rua dos Douradores has the same pulse of life as it did 100 years ago, but Pessoa did step on this very sidewalk in his wandering around Lisbon and it was here, right here, that Bernardo Soares, a bookkeeper's assistant lived and worked. And he even dreamed of leaving.
Bernardo Soares: “In my dream I experienced freedom, as if the South Seas had offered me marvelous islands to be discovered. It would all be repose, artistic achievement, the intellectual fulfillment of my being. But even as I was imagining this, during my miniature midday holiday in a café, an unpleasant thought assaulted my dream: I realized I would feel regret. Yes, I say it as if confronted by the actual circumstance: I would feel regret. Vasques my boss, Moreira the head bookkeeper, Borges the cashier, all the young men, the cheerful boy who takes letters to the post office, the boy who makes deliveries, the gentle cat – all this has become part of my life. And I wouldn't be able to leave it without crying, without feeling that – like it or not – it was a part of me which would remain with all of them, and that to separate myself from them would be a partial death.
Church bells, street sounds
Sofia: Pessoa never worked or lived in Rua dos Douradores. But he did do business with many companies here in Baixa. Our next stop is one of those places. Let’s make our way to Rua da Assunção.