The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector's consummate final novel, may well be her masterpiece. Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marylin Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly, and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly free. She doesn't seem to know how unhappy she should be. Lispector employs her pathetic heroine against her urbane, empty narrator--edge of despair to edge of despair--and, working them like a pair of scissors, she cuts away the reader's preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love, and the art of fiction. In her last novel she takes readers close to the true mystery of life, and leaves us deep in Lispector territory indeed.
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The Complete Stories

The recent publication by New Directions of five Lispector novels revealed to legions of new readers her darkness and dazzle. Now, for the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Lispector’s stories take us through their lives—and ours. From one of the greatest modern writers, these stories, gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, follow an unbroken time line of success as a writer, from her adolescence to her death bed.
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The Stream of Life

This rarefied novel adopts the form of the interior monologue characteristic of Lispector's (1925-1977) oeuvre. A woman sits by the open window of her Brazilian beachfront studio, writing a long letter to someone no more specific than "you." She parries with language (which is "only words which live off sound") and is wholly consumed with problems of epistemology: "I want to die with life." A painter, she struggles as well to recreate the world around her: "On certain nights, instead of black, the sky seems to be an intense indigo blue, a color I've painted on glass." When she listens to music, she says, "I rest my hand lightly on the turntable and my hand vibrates, spreading waves through my whole body." While the narrator's self-consciousness ("And if I say 'I,' it's because I don't dare say 'you,' or 'we,' or 'a person.' I'm limited to the humble act of self-personalization through reducing myself, but I am the 'you-are.' ") and diction ("the ultimate substratum in the domain of reality") may strike some readers as academic, others will appreciate the challenges of Lispector's philosophical investigations. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Views: 823

The Chandelier

Fresh from the enormous success of her debut novel Near to the Wild Heart, Hurricane Clarice let loose something stormier with The Chandelier. In a body of work renowned for its potent idiosyncratic genius, The Chandelier in many ways has pride of place. “It stands out,” her biographer Benjamin Moser noted, “in a strange and difficult body of work, as perhaps her strangest and most difficult book.” Of glacial intensity, consisting almost entirely of interior monologues—interrupted by odd and jarring fragments of dialogue and action—the novel moves in slow waves that crest in moments of revelation. As Virginia seeks freedom via creation, the drama of her isolated life is almost entirely internal: from childhood, she sculpts clay figurines with “the best clay one could desire: white, supple, sticky, cold. She got a clear and tender material from which she could shape a world. How, how to explain the miracle ...” While on one level simply the story of a woman’s life, The Chandelier’s real drama lies in Lispector’s attempt “to find the nucleus made of a single instant ... the tenuous triumph and the defeat, perhaps nothing more than breathing.” The Chandelier pushes Lispector’s lifelong quest for that nucleus into deeper territories than any of her other amazing works.
Views: 714

The Passion According to G.H.

The Passion According to G.H., Clarice Lispector’s mystical novel of 1964, concerns a well-to-do Rio sculptress, G.H., who enters her maid’s room, sees a cockroach crawling out of the wardrobe, and, panicking, slams the door —crushing the cockroach —and then watches it die. At the end of the novel, at the height of a spiritual crisis, comes the most famous and most genuinely shocking scene in Brazilian literature… Lispector wrote that of all her works this novel was the one that “best corresponded to her demands as a writer.”
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A Breath of Life

A mystical dialogue between a male author (a thinly disguised Clarice Lispector) and his/her creation, a woman named Angela, this posthumous work has never before been translated. Lispector did not even live to see it published. At her death, a mountain of fragments remained to be “structured” by Olga Borelli. These fragments form a dialogue between a god-like author who infuses the breath of life into his creation: the speaking, breathing, dying creation herself, Angela Pralini. The work’s almost occult appeal arises from the perception that if Angela dies, Clarice will have to die as well. And she did.
Views: 547

The Besieged City

Seven decades after its original publication, Clarice Lispector's third novel—the story of a girl and the city her gaze reveals—is in English at lastSeven decades after its original publication, Clarice Lispector's third novel—the story of a girl and the city her gaze reveals—is in English at last. Lucrécia Neves is ready to marry. Her suitors—soldierly Felipe, pensive Perseu, dependable Mateus—are attracted to her tawdry not-quite-beauty, which is of a piece with Sao Geraldo, the rough-and-ready township she inhabits. Civilization is on its way to this place, where wild horses still roam. As Lucrécia is tamed by marriage, Sao Geraldo gradually expels its horses; and as the town strives for the highest attainment it can conceive—a viaduct—it takes on the progressively more metropolitan manners that Lucrécia, with her vulgar ambitions, desires too. Yet it is precisely through this woman's...
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Agua Viva

This rarefied novel adopts the form of the interior monologue characteristic of Lispector's (1925-1977) oeuvre. A woman sits by the open window of her Brazilian beachfront studio, writing a long letter to someone no more specific than "you." She parries with language (which is "only words which live off sound") and is wholly consumed with problems of epistemology: "I want to die with life." A painter, she struggles as well to recreate the world around her: "On certain nights, instead of black, the sky seems to be an intense indigo blue, a color I've painted on glass." When she listens to music, she says, "I rest my hand lightly on the turntable and my hand vibrates, spreading waves through my whole body." While the narrator's self-consciousness ("And if I say 'I,' it's because I don't dare say 'you,' or 'we,' or 'a person.' I'm limited to the humble act of self-personalization through reducing myself, but I am the 'you-are.' ") and diction ("the ultimate substratum in the domain of reality") may strike some readers as academic, others will appreciate the challenges of Lispector's philosophical investigations. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Views: 418

Near to the Wild Heart

Near to the Wild Heart is Clarice Lispector's first novel, written from March to November 1942 and published around her twenty-third birthday. The novel, written in a stream-of-consciousness style reminiscent of the English-language Modernists, centers around the childhood and early adulthood of a character named Joana, who bears strong resemblance to her author: "Madame Bovary, c'est moi", Lispector said, quoting Flaubert, when asked about the similarities. The book, particularly its revolutionary language, brought its young, unknown creator to great prominence in Brazilian letters and earned her the prestigious Graça Aranha Prize. Joana, a young woman very much in the mode of existential contemporaries like Camus and Sartre, ponders the meaning of life, the freedom to be one's self, and the purpose of existence. Near to the Wild Heart does not have a conventional narrative plot. It instead recounts flashes from the life of Joana, between her present, as a young woman, and her early childhood. These focus, like most of Lispector's works, on interior, emotional states of mind.
Views: 391

Three Dreams in the Key of G

In peace-agreement Ulster a mother rears her two daughters, as her husband is decommissioned from his violent paramilitary past. In Florida a septuagenarian runs a community refuge for women – only the authorities have surrounded it as a threat to national security. In laboratories all over the world the human genome is being dissected and decoded. In Three Dreams in the Key of G three female voices – Mother, Crone and Creatrix – unknowingly influence each other's fates as each battles to assert themselves and discover their voices in hostile environments.
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