“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”
A few thoughts from “The Book of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935), a Portuguese writer who is the dearest to my heart. Fernando was a Portuguese poet, considered one of the most significant literary figures of the early 20th century, and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language .
Along with Patrick Modiano,E.M. Cioran, Clarice Lispector and Anita Brookner, Fernando Pessoa is undoubtedly my favourite writer.
If you have never read “The Book of Disquiet”, I would encourage you to get a copy of this book in translation of Richard Zenith and read a few paragraphs now and then.
“I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me.”
“I’d woken up early and I took a long time getting ready to exist”.
“Why are there not islands for those who feel uncomfortable here, ancient avenues for the lonely to dream in and that others cannot find?”
Below I am sharing with you this quote that I really love about the magic of books, reading and literature. If you have a chance to read a moving short story: ‘Mendel The Bibliophile’ by Stefan Zweig, I would very much encourage you to do so.
“Just as an astronomer, alone in an observatory, watches night after night through a telescope the myriads of stars, their mysterious movements, their changeful medley, their extinction and their flaming-up anew, so did Jacob Mendel, seated at his table in the Café Gluck, look through his spectacles into the universe of books, a universe that lies above the world of our everyday life, and, like the stellar universe, is full of changing cycles.”
I thought to share a little post about ‘Yes To Life’ by Dr Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997) as it might help some of you out there who currently go through personal struggles especially due to the pandemic.
You might be familiar with the name of Dr Frankl from his other well-known book: ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. . ‘Yes to Life’ is the newest publication in English of Dr Frankl’s lectures that he gave in March and April of 1946, just nine months after being liberated from the Nazi concentration camp. Dr Frankl spent three years in death camps such Auschwitz, Dachau and others. He lost his parents and his pregnant wife during the Holocaust.
“From childhood’s hour I have not been As others were—I have not seen As others saw—I could not bring My passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken My sorrow; I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone; And all I loved, I loved alone. Then—in my childhood—in the dawn Of a most stormy life—was drawn From every depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still: From the torrent, or the fountain, From the red cliff of the mountain, From the sun that round me roll’d In its autumn tint of gold— From the lightning in the sky As it pass’d me flying by— From the thunder, and the storm, And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view—”
“When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified: Or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stance . . . provides illumination and healing. In such situations, deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift, one can give to another.”
Books written by James Baldwin have always had a special place in my heart. They helped me to overcome many struggles that I faced as a young immigrant earlier in my life. I cannot express with words how much Baldwin’s writings mean to me. I especially like this quotation below from one of his interviews as it reflects my very own thoughts and it shows one of the reasons why storytelling is so important as a carrier of our shared humanity.
“your life is your life don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. be on the watch. there are ways out. there is a light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness. be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them. you can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes. and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.”