Clarice Lispector

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anyone ever read her? curious after reading the review of a new biography in the nyt book review.

"Here’s a riddle for literary sleuths. Which 20th-century writer was described by the eminent French critic Hélène Cixous as being what Rilke might have been, if he were a “Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine”? By the poet Elizabeth Bishop as “better than J. L. Borges”? And by the Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso as one of the chief revelations of his adolescence, along with sex and love and bossa nova? The answer is Clarice Lispector, a Portuguese-language novelist who died in Rio de Janeiro in 1977, and who, despite a cult following of artists and scholars, has yet to gain her rightful place in the literary canon."

scott seward, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 02:34 (thirteen years ago) link

someone mentioned her on some ilb thread this week iirc. I have not read her and only knew about her due to reading Caetano's book.

123456789 (jim), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 02:35 (thirteen years ago) link

also wow didn't know she was so hot.

123456789 (jim), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 02:36 (thirteen years ago) link

Clarence Lispector Gadget

tony dayo (dyao), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 02:46 (thirteen years ago) link

literary bonerz

velko, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 02:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Have had The Hour of the Star sitting unread on my shelves for the longest time. Should read it, it's supposed to be her best one and it's pretty short too.

Isn't there a band called Lispector around at the moment?

Peinlich Manoeuvre (NickB), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 10:18 (thirteen years ago) link

ha, scott, the same review piqued my interest too--esp the better than borges/inspired caetano veloso bit

fleetwood (max), Tuesday, 25 August 2009 10:19 (thirteen years ago) link

wow, she's so beautiful

cozwn, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 10:21 (thirteen years ago) link


cozwn, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 10:51 (thirteen years ago) link

cozwn, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 12:12 (thirteen years ago) link

I went to the library to get something by her out. Heartened to see from a computer search that they had six or seven English translations, I wandered to the section only to find that some FILFY SCOUNDREL or GUTTER-PRINCIPLED DOXY had already taken them ALL out. 'Garn,' I said, and waved my fist. But I've reserved one, and am looking forward to testing the waters in a month or so's time.

GamalielRatsey, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 18:42 (thirteen years ago) link

I read an interview with the biographer in the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago. Must admit it does not sound that interesting -- the facts might be quite something taken in isolation but I simply judged to be compelling when strung out over the course of a book. Then again I just need to read her fiction first. I get a Djuna Barnes feel about her from the articles so that's enough for me to try a book or two.

I mentioned that I came across a Helene Cixous essay on Lispector (and Joyce) in a bookshop. In fact I looked at my library and they appear to have that essay collection (on Routledge). I think we'll have to wait for Cixous to die so that I can get to read her fiction, unfortunately.

My weekend library search appeared to only turn up The Apple in the Dark as a IL loan and not The passion According to G.H. (with the cockroach eating scene). Anyway, I'll try that.

Nick B -- I see there is a band called Lispector. On Myspace.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:01 (thirteen years ago) link

to be not that compelling, I meant.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:02 (thirteen years ago) link

The Hour of The Star is my second or third favourite book.

Gravel Puzzleworth, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:13 (thirteen years ago) link

I am happy to talk about it! It's wonderful!

Gravel Puzzleworth, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:13 (thirteen years ago) link

I would recommend that one! The others are more Joycean, maybe you like that?

Gravel Puzzleworth, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 21:15 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm convinced-have ordered 'Hour of the Star'. That first photo Scott posted is so gorgeous.

When two tribes go to war, he always gets picked last (James Morrison), Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:30 (thirteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

just saw this! awesome

just sayin, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 09:36 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

all i've read by clarice lispector is "near to the wild heart" but it made a strong impression on me and i am eager to delve into her later works. to me, NTTWH articulates the impasse of existentialism at least as well as Sartre's Nausea... that is, the protagonist experiences this profound semantic emptiness in her life that makes possible the recognition of freedom... but the work is far more lyrical and Romantic than anything i've read that has been explicitly tagged with the "existentialist" label. but yeah, lispector was a writer of this highly anti-social, highly punk rock vision of freedom, and she was able to be a sensualist and a spiritualist at the same time; indeed, reading her work, one can hardly imagine how these two categories came to be seen as opposed. so... CLASSIC, but i am afraid her sensibility is a bit outmoded now for the same reasons french existentialism is. i wrote an review of NTTWH but i will graciously refrain from linking to it.

Pat Finn, Monday, 22 April 2013 04:43 (nine years ago) link

also, i usually don't like to say this kind of thing about artists i admire, but i could look at photos of clarice lispector all day. something about her appearance is not only beautiful but otherworldly, which fits so perfectly with her authorial persona/legend.

Pat Finn, Monday, 22 April 2013 04:54 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

you can prob find these online, I haven't tried to search, but I would highly rec elizabeth bishop's translations of a couple lispector short stories, they're in bishop's collected prose

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 24 May 2013 22:24 (nine years ago) link

always think this woman sounds like the heroine of a nordic detective novel

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Saturday, 25 May 2013 09:15 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

my posts here are obnoxious. lispector's project was more complex than my book report type description allows. the "nausea" of freedom is a large part of what she is interested in, but her work covers a wider range than just that. also my comments on her "otherworldly" appearance are basically sexist. she wasn't an otherworldly spiritualist, she was an artist of this world but a modernist who didn't shy away from the strangeness of experience.

“Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?”

Treeship, Sunday, 25 January 2015 22:57 (eight years ago) link

people should read clarice lispector though. clarice lispector and jean rhys are the authors i am thinking about today.

Treeship, Sunday, 25 January 2015 22:58 (eight years ago) link

Rachel Kushner's tour of Lispectorvision (get your glasses on) I gotta read all this and more!

dow, Sunday, 25 January 2015 23:56 (eight years ago) link

always think this woman sounds like the heroine of a nordic detective novel

― the bitcoin comic (thomp), Saturday, May 25, 2013 10:15 AM (1 year ago)

Lispector Norse

emil.y, Monday, 26 January 2015 00:02 (eight years ago) link

I've read Agua Viva and am halfway through The Passion According to G.H. (foreword by Caetano Veloso). There is a deep inner alienation that could align her to Sartre but she doesn't have a straightforward philosophical standpoint she inputs into her books. Also iirc in Nausea Sartre tries to write a novel with characters and episodes and stuff and I think Lispector has certainly no time for such niceties.

She photographs like Elvis or some such - you just want to study those photographs. They have an aura that is transmitted through her works, making it very addictive - you never feel you can make heads or tails of it. There could be very profound secrets within and yet actually nothing at all there too, but by then you've read the book 111 times (that weird anecdote about a of famous Brazilian singer Cazuza who was one of her readers in that article). Empty charisma.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 26 January 2015 00:21 (eight years ago) link

seriously every time i see these i still think it's like henning mankell or smth!! it's a problem!!!

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Monday, 26 January 2015 00:30 (eight years ago) link

near to the wild heart thematizes freedom and the way it can lead one to a sense of meaninglessness more explicitly than the later stuff i've read, and it's also basically a straightforward (strem of consciousness) novel, but you're right she is averse to coming to conclusions about the condition she describes

Treeship, Monday, 26 January 2015 00:39 (eight years ago) link

i'd push back against the reading that her books are void of content, more style than anything. at least in near to the wild heart, inner freedom, "wildness," a private barbarism seems to almost be proposed as a response to an oppressive world. that's where i saw the existentialism connection: freedom in the midst of unfreedom, affirming the void, etc.

Treeship, Monday, 26 January 2015 00:45 (eight years ago) link

Its not that she is "void of content" but I allow for the possbility she could be - although she makes a lot of that. I could list a lot of great European fiction all day that has a lot of those characteristics: Pavese, Musil, Bernhard...but it isn't wrapped up in this mysticism/spiritualism.

After Agua Viva I thought the way she addressed the reader and her obscurity reminded me of Rilke at times but I am still thinking this one through.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 26 January 2015 09:50 (eight years ago) link

One book that I am coincidentally reading (finishing A Breath of Life too) that is the nearest thing to Lispector that I can think of is Paul Valery's Monsieur Trieste. Its a bare bones of a novel, written by people who have a profound issue with the novel as a thing but who nevertheless find it as another way to give expression to a philosophical reflection i.e. via the creation of a 'character'. Valery clearly views this as far more problematic as this looks barely 'finished' or even started.

Other analogues are Celan's prose. Not that there is much of it.

Lispector hasn't written any poetry (?) but perhaps that isn't as surprising. Unlike Valery or Celan she is trying to slot a circle into a square shaped box. There are many attempts at a novel, and she is really thinking more outside of herself, at times, i.e. her obsession with her maids.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 5 February 2015 11:19 (seven years ago) link

A girl I really like in University was super into her, so I was extra motivated and always wanted to like her, but I never really did, to the extent that I wanted to

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 5 February 2015 11:33 (seven years ago) link

Massive 600+ page short story collection coming out later this year. Apparently it assembles 9 seperate collections.

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Thursday, 5 February 2015 11:42 (seven years ago) link

xyzzzz__, Lispector's cronicas are also worth reading if you're interested in other texts by her that stand outside novelistic structures, although she never goes as far into abstraction there as she does in The Passion According to GH or the parts I've read of Agua Viva: the meditative passages jostle up against stray memories and details of everyday life (including the quirks of her maids, iirc).

James, I'm really excited to hear about the new collection--although a few of her books of stories have been translated (my favorite might be Family Ties), it sounds like there should be a lot of untranslated work in the Complete Stories.

I should say that the one extant filmed interview with Lispector (from 1977, near the end of her life) is undramatic but kind of mesmerizing. I love the prolonged silence after she claims that the role of the Brazilian writer should be to speak as little as possible:

one way street, Thursday, 5 February 2015 17:56 (seven years ago) link

(Its Monsieur Teste btw..)

Cronicas does sound amazing ows. I'll def try and get this! Similarly I am excited to get hold of her short stories sometime.

I'll look at that youtube later.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 5 February 2015 19:47 (seven years ago) link

James, I'm really excited to hear about the new collection--although a few of her books of stories have been translated (my favorite might be Family Ties), it sounds like there should be a lot of untranslated work in the Complete Stories.

The only shorts of hers I've read are a couple translated by Elizabeth Bishop, but I really liked them. I've found the link to the book: - it has _86_ stories! Not out until August, though.

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Thursday, 5 February 2015 21:44 (seven years ago) link

Published on my bday! :-)

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 5 February 2015 21:48 (seven years ago) link

seven years pass...

The Cronicas are getting published soon!!

As much as I admire Clarice Lispector’s fiction, the non-fiction crônicas are my favourite part of her writing. Great to see this massive edition on the way from Penguin. Last year, I wrote about Lispector and Brazil in crônica form for @GrantaMag

— Sinéad Gleeson (offline) (@sineadgleeson) July 14, 2022

xyzzzz__, Friday, 15 July 2022 08:26 (six months ago) link

I heard a few of her short stories ("Remnants of Carnival," "The Obedient Ones" and "Happy Birthday") read on Selected Shorts, and I thought they were brilliant. On the strength of those works and Tommy Orange's citing her as an influence, I picked Near to the Wild Heart for book club a while back. Turnout for discussion was notably light. It is a challenging work, one that is made maybe a little more accessible if you familiarize yourself, at least on a superficial level, with Spinoza before you dive into it. A prodigiously gifted writer; I wish I read Portuguese well enough to read her in the original.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 15 July 2022 21:47 (six months ago) link

The cronicas have already been published by carcanet, I’ve got it (700 odd pages, I’ve only dipped into them). Penguin translation may be better but I can sort you xyz!

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Friday, 15 July 2022 22:18 (six months ago) link

Thanks wins, but it's ok - happy to hang on till September (Had no idea there was a whole translation of it, only knew of a selected Cronicas)

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 16 July 2022 07:37 (six months ago) link

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