Colm Tóibín, 12 August 2021
Reading The Book of Disquiet after reading Richard Zenith’s biography allows us to see that the chaos and lassitude of Pessoa’s life had an undercurrent of discipline and rigour. He had no idea how to make a living; he talked too much, drank too much and wrote too much; his political ideas were often mad; but all the time The Book of Disquiet was emerging, holding a tight space between banality and comedy. Pessoa seems at one moment to be conservative and nationalist only to emerge a moment later as a liberal. But he always had a dream of Portugal and its destiny that was both preposterous and nourishing. It gave him a myth to demolish or re-create.