June 21, 2021

Clarice Lispector, the unspeakable writer in style and form | Culture

Clarice Lispector, the unspeakable writer in style and form | Culture

"I do not write to please anyone," he repeated countless times Clarice Lispector when they reproached him that they did not understand what he wanted to say in his works. She never cared what they would say, especially from the fact that they rejected, in a newspaper of Pernambuco when she was a child, the stories she sent for a children's section of stories. Because while the rest of the children sent narrative texts, theirs only contained "sensations".

She was always clear that she would dedicate herself to writing, and in fact she did not only work as a writer, but she was also a journalist with articles of opinion, cooking and fashion. She wanted to be considered a normal woman and, apparently, as a mother of two children, a wife and someone who belonged to the middle class, she was. However, she excelled in everything because she was not normal in anything she did, she was a genius artist impossible to pigeonhole, recognized in her intimate circles and in literary Brazil, but little further despite having traveled a lot during her scarce half a century of life.

Lispector is considered, along with Guimarães Rosa, the great Brazilian writer of the second half of the 20th century thanks to her style, between poetry and prose. A brand that filled the daily details with spirituality and was characterized by using the first person in the stories. He did not resemble anyone and his vision does not remember any movement, although it belongs to the third phase of modernism, that of the Generation of 45 in Brazil.

Chaya Pinkhasovna Lispector was the name given to her at birth on December 10, 1920, in the Ukrainian town of Chetchelnik. Of Jewish origin, it was the third daughter of Pinkhas and Mania. His birth was a stop on the road of escape in a time of hunger, chaos and racial persecution. His grandfather was murdered, his mother was raped and his father was exiled, without money, to the other side of the world.

The year after Clarice was born, the whole family fled the anti-Jewish pogroms of the then Russian Empire, first to what is currently Moldova and Romania and later, in 1922 to the city of Maceió (capital of the state of Alagoas), where family members were already Upon arrival in Brazil all took Portuguese names: Pinkhas became Pedro, Mania in Marieta, and Chaya received the new name of Clarice.

Clarice's mother, who had been raped during the First World War and had contracted syphilis, died 10 years later. The popular belief in Eastern Europe said that a pregnancy could heal a woman affected by this disease, but in this case it was not like that either. Clarice was born from this eagerness to save her and knew her origin from a very young age, so the feeling of guilt also marked her life and her creativity as a writer.

In Brazil, her father, who was brilliant and liberal, survived selling clothes and barely managed to support the family, but he was determined that the world would see what kind of daughters he had. At five years old the family moved to Recife and when Clarice had 10 they moved to Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to this effort of the head of the family, Clarice continued her education far beyond the level allowed to the most economically favored girls and entered one of the strongholds of the elite, the National Law School of the University of Brazil. There, in law school, there were no Jews and only three women.

But her law studies left little trace in her because she pursued her dream in the newsrooms of the Brazilian capital, where her beauty and brilliance already dazzled her Asian features, with high and high cheekbones and slightly slanted eyes. She was also a cultured young woman who knew and read assiduously the most important national and foreign authors, such as Machado de Assis, Rachel de Queiroz, Eça de Queiroz, Jorge Amado and Fédor Dostoevsky.

On May 25, 1940 he published his first known story, The triumph. Three months later, her father died when she was only 55 years old, so before she turned 20, Clarice was an orphan. At 21 he published Close to the wild heart, a work he had written at 19 and for which he received the Graça Aranha prize for best novel.

In 1943 Clarice Lispector He married a Catholic man, something unheard of at that time in Brazil. It was with the diplomat Maury Gurgel Valente, whom he met while studying law. At the end of that year, the couple began to travel, so in a short time he had not only left his family, his ethnic community and his country, but also his profession, journalism, in which he had a growing reputation.

For 15 years, until they separated in 1959, Clarice led a boring life as a perfect wife but always missing Brazil. His first trip was to Naples in 1944, during the Second World War, as a volunteer to help injured Brazilian soldiers in hospitals. In 1946 he published his second novel, The luster, and in the following five years the writer traveled in innumerable occasions from England to Paris until, finally, the family settled in Bern, where her first son, Paulo, was born.

Clarice never found her place outside of Brazil and was prone to depression, but in reality it was thanks to her husband for what she managed to write, since her immigrant background made her less permeable to the ideas of Brazilian society, and her marriage was a step forward in economic terms, because she was never rich but she did not have to work on anything other than writing. She was a wife and mother but had full time help to write and could do it in a room for herself.

The traditional and customary themes that had to do with women, motherhood, housekeeping and children had been written before, but nobody had done it like her. Perhaps that turn of the screw meant a new language for Clarice, with a strange grammar that could perhaps be attributed to the influence of the Jewish mysticism that her father taught her. But another part of his strangeness of style and form can be attributed to his need to invent and transmit sensations beyond facts. Anyone who reads their stories from beginning to end will be affected by an incessant linguistic search and a grammatical instability that impede reading too quickly and sometimes not understanding the meaning the first time.

In 1949 Clarice Lispector publishes The besieged city. He begins to write stories and in 1952 publishes Some stories. She travels with her husband to the United States, where her second son, Pedro, was born in 1953. A year later, in 1954, the first translation of her book was published: Close to the wild heart, in French, with cover of Henri Matisse.

In 1959 she separated from her diplomatic husband and returned to Rio de Janeiro, where she returned to journalism to get the money to live independently. A year later he published Family ties, a storybook applauded by critics, and a year later the novel The apple in the dark, which was taken to the theater. In 1963 he published what is considered his masterpiece, The passion according to G.H., written in just a few months.

The passion according to G.H. recounts the experience of a woman who one day finds a cockroach in the closet of the maid's room. The protagonist can not avoid being paralyzed by the contemplation of that insect, which is stuck in the door and that, in spite of the repulsion it produces, continues to watch it obsessively, until making that experience the trigger of a vital renewal.

In the late 1960s, Clarice published more personal articles in the newspaper Jornal do Brasil in which it was intimately portrayed and which made it a popular signature, to the point that his dog Ulisses appeared in them and became a legend in the city as one of the few links with the Brazilian reality, since that barely talked about local or national issues.

But the writer continued being an impregnable enigma, that answered with monosyllables to the press or it did not appear to the interviews, which also increased its legend of artist and almost of myth. As if that were not enough for his anxiety and tendency to depression, an event accelerated this part of his personality. In 1966 the writer fell asleep with a lit cigarette and her bedroom was destroyed. She suffered burns to a large part of her body and was hospitalized for several months. His right hand, very affected, almost had to be amputated and never recovered the previous mobility. The incident affected his mood and the scars and marks on his body caused continuous depressions.

However, Clarice already had a global recognition of his career, so in the late 60s and early 70s he devoted himself to publishing children's books and some translations of foreign works, which he combined with lectures and lectures in different universities of Brazil. His latest book, The time of the star, is a volume that he wrote on the back of checks and in cigarette packs. It has less than 100 pages and talks about a girl who, like her years ago, travels from the northeast to Rio de Janeiro.

Clarice Lispector died in Rio de Janeiro on December 9, 1977 at age 56, a day before turning 57, victim of cancer. Her farewell at the hospital, to a nurse, was: "My character dies!", Perhaps the best definition of her literature. She was buried two days later in the cemetery of Cajú by the Orthodox rite, wrapped in white linen. His tombstone, simple, bears his Hebrew name: Chaya Bat Pinkhas, which means "the daughter of Pinkhas".

His strange foreign name, which had always been a subject of constant speculation during his life, made him a legend to his death. Critics had suggested that it might even be a pseudonym, while others had asked themselves more than once if it was a man. In the end, everything reflects the concern that she was something different from what she looked like and what was known until then.

In the 85 stories he wrote, Clarice Lispector always evoked, in the first place, the writer herself, herself. From his first story, published when he was 19, until the last, found after his death, there is a life of experimentation through different styles and experiences that not everyone understands: even some educated Brazilians have been baffled by the fervor that He inspires without being able to understand what he writes.

But the art of Clarice Lispector he always invites us to want to know the woman, and through his stories he can trace his artistic life, from the promise of adolescence and assured maturity, to the inexorable closeness of death.


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