Clarice Lispector would have celebrated her 95th birthday today. In honour of this glorious lady, I have spent the day indulging in this brand spanking new copy of her collected short stories, gathered together for the first time in English by Penguin.
Clarice inspires me as a woman, as a writer, and as a woman writer.
At a time in my life when everything was ugly and dark, I desperately needed to find beauty somewhere and was running out of places to look. Agua Viva had such an impact on me it was as if Lispector had slapped me round the face, shaken me by my shoulders, and embraced me like a child, all at once. She knew how much pain I was in, living inside of myself.
“Something broke in me and left me with a nerve split in two. In the beginning the extremities linked to the cut hurt me so badly that I paled in pain and perplexity. However the split places gradually scarred over. Until coldly, I no longer hurt. I changed, without planning to. I used to look at you from my inside outward and from the inside of you, which because of love, I could guess. After the scarring I started to look at you from the outside in. And also to see myself from the outside in: I had transformed myself into a heap of facts and actions whose only root was in the domain of logic. At first I couldn’t associate me with myself. Where am I? I wondered. And the one who answered was a stranger who told me coldly and categorically: you are yourself.”
A Breath of Life ― Clarice Lispector
Lispector is as seductive on paper as she was in the flesh. She had the (then rare) gift of beauty and brains, and her status as a foreigner with a tough childhood made Lispector’s demeanour entirely intriguing. She is often described as having been ‘enchanting’ and ‘bewitching’. Her magical way with words and all her glamorous allure definitely makes Clarice Lispector a literary goddess in my eyes.
“And now — now it only remains for me to light a cigarette and go home. Dear God, only now am I remembering that people die. Does that include me? Don’t forget, in the meantime, that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.”
The Hour of the Star ― Clarice Lispector
Cheers Clarice, I hope we get to share a jar in the next life! Parabéns!
I’m not familiar with Clarice, but I’ve just ordered a copy of Aqua Viva. Thank you for the suggestion. M