Literature | Fernando Pessoa

Reading on the roof of an apartment building in New York City, 1951.

“To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.
Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as
acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning
in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use
visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself.

This isn’t the case with literature. Literature simulates life. A novel is a story of
what never was, a play is a novel without narration. A poem is the expression of
ideas or feelings a language no one uses, because no one talks in verse.”

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
(it was first published in Portuguese in 1982, 47 years after Pessoa’s death)


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