On the importance of a keen sense of place



Over seven hills, which are as many points of observation whence the most magnificent panoramas may be enjoyed, the vast irregular and many-coloured mass of houses that constitute Lisbon is scattered. For the traveller who comes in from the sea, Lisbon, even from afar, rises like a fair vision in a dream, clear-cut against a bright blue sky which the sun gladdens with its gold. And the domes, the monuments, the old castles jut up above the mass of houses, like far-off heralds of this delightful seat, of this blessed region. – Fernando Pessoa – Lisbon, What the Tourist Should See 

“And leaning out the window, enjoying the day above the varying volume of the entire city, only one thought swells my soul – the intimate will to die, to finish, not to see more light over any city, not to think, not to feel, to leave behind like wrapping paper the course of the sun and the days, to rid myself, at the edge of the grand bed, as of a heavy suit, of the involuntary effort to be.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Silence emerges from the sound of rain and spreads in a crescendo of gray monotony over the narrow street I contemplate. I’m sleeping while awake, standing by the window, leaning against it as against everything. I search in myself for the sensations I feel before these falling threads of darkly luminous water that stand out from the grimy building facades and especially from the open windows. And I don’t know what I feel or what I want to feel. I don’t know what to think or where I am.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Tomorrow I too – this feeling and thinking soul, the universe I am to myself – yes, tomorrow I too will be someone who no longer walks the streets, someone others will evoke with a vague: ‘I wonder what’s become of him?’ And everything I do, everything I feel, everything I experience, will be just one less passer-by on the daily streets of some city or other.” ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Life is whatever we make it. The traveller is the journey. What we see is not what we see but who we are.” ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.” ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“After the rains departed the skies and settled on earth – clear skies; moist brilliant earth – greater clarity returned to life alone with the blue above and made the world below rejoice with the freshness of the recent rain. It left heaven in our souls and a freshness in our hearts.” ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Life is full of paradoxes, as roses are of thorns.”  – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet


“The sense of place is as essential to good and honest writing as a logical mind; surely they are somewhere related. It is by knowing where you stand that you grow able to judge where you are.” Further, she says art is the best means of achieving “a mutual understanding of the world.” So for writers, accurately capturing a city or country is a lofty and important responsibility. – Eudora Welty On Writing (1956). Dit artikel uit de Huffingtonpost.com heeft het – uitgaande van Welty’s advies – over hoe belangrijk de ruimtebeschrijvingen zijn in romans. Ze zijn geen vervelende bladvulling maar een hoogst persoonlijke weergave van de omgeving waarin de personages zich bewegen. Zo persoonlijk zelfs dat die ruimte – indien goed weergegeven – de bestaansgrond van de auteur blootlegt, de weerspiegeling wordt van zijn gezichtspunt en die van zijn personages en een eigen leven gaat leiden. Je verbeelding laten reizen in die literaire ruimte terwijl of nadat je er in werkelijkheid hebt vertoefd is inderdaad fascinerend omdat je persoonlijke bewustzijn van de tijd en de plaats plots meer licht werpt op dat van de auteur en zijn personages en er zo ‘contact’ kan ontstaan tussen de schrijver, zijn personages en de lezer. Je laat de auteur via de beschrijving van zijn ‘plaats’ op deze wereld bij je binnenkomen. Je wandelt door een streek, zit op een plek, kijkt uit over een landschap, loopt door een stad en je bent ‘gewaar’.

Auteur: Blauwkruikje

Nature, fiction, theater, poetry, philosophy and art lover. Master of Germanic Philology - KULeuven - Belgium. Photo: Ostend (B) - Japanese Deep Sea Garden

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