Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why You Should Know Clarice Lispector

I must say I knew nothing about Clarice until I read this article.  Now I am very interested,

That unexpected encounter brought me friends I never would have met and took me to places I never would have seen. Yes, the same would have been true with Russian or Arabic or Greek: every new culture brings its food, its music, its beaches. But what Portuguese gave me that nothing else could have was Brazil’s great mystic writer, Clarice Lispector, a person so dazzling that she was reputed to be that rare woman who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.

She came to Brazil by way of Ukraine, and adopted Portuguese as her literary language.

Read more

For those curious, here is The Passion According to G.H.


  1. Clarice Lispector has a number of stories in a book entitled "Eye of the Heart: Short Stories from Latin America." In my opinion it is probably the best one-volume introduction to latin American fiction. But if you can find the two-volume "Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature," that is the one to go with. Great book but sadly out of print. However, there are many inexpensive copies available through ABE Boooks.

  2. Alas, about the only Brazilian lit I have read is Jorge Amado.

  3. Readers in the States usually know Amado, Borges and Marquez. After that there is very little familiarity with the region. Which is a shame. But the same is no doubt true regarding Eastern European writers. Only a few are successfully exported to the West.

  4. Lack and/or quality of translations doesn't help. I remember trying to read Ilf and Petrov's 12 Chairs and the humor had been virtually sapped away in translation. Was also disappointed with a translation of Imre Kertész I bought.

  5. I haven't had too much to complain about regarding translations, although most of them have been major publishers who you would assume vet their translators. Having said that, I find Orhan Pamuk's books pretty much unreadable. Don't know if that's the translator's fault or Pamuk's. And I so want to like his books.