Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Well. There is One Story I Don't Understand

Jewish. Kabbalistic. Mystic. Void. Numerology. Ukraine. And Brazil. These are the categories that inspired Clarice Lispector's life, living and writing. Inspired and determined partially - but not completely. Next to that, she was one-of-a-kind and original.

Saturday I finished Benjamin Moser's book 'Why This World. A Biography of Clarice Lispector' (2009). I read this biography because I want to understand why Clarice (1920-1977) is so popular in Brazil. I encounter quotes from her books quite often from my Brazilian friends.

To be honest I still don't understand. It must be her strange- or foreignness. Above all, her writing is very quotable just like Nietzsche. Why Clarice? Because in her works one finds the full range of human experience. She is like a mirror. As she said, "I am all of yourselves." (page 5)

Jewish mystics: "The name of the thing is the thing, and by discovering the name one creates it. (...) The point where the name of a thing becomes identical to the thing itself, the "word that has its own light," is the ultimate reality. The discovery of the holy name, synonymous with God, was the highest goal of the Jewish mystics." (page 155)

For Clarice her writing didn't bring what she wanted, which was peace. "My literature is in no sense a catharsis that would do me good and is useless as a form of liberation." (page 260)

Was she a hermetic? Clarice: "I understand myself. Well, there's one story I don't understand, 'The Egg and the Hen,' which is a mystery to me." (page 278)

Moser: "Much of Clarice Lispector's subsequent fame, her enduring popularity among a broad public, rests on this thin book, in which she managed to bring together all the strands of her writing and of her life. Explicitly Jewish and explicitly Brazilian, joining the northeast of her childhood with her Rio de Janeiro of her adulthood, "social" and abstract, tragic and comic, uniting her religious and linguistic questions with the narrative drive of her finest stories, 'The Hour of the Star' is a fitting monument to its author's "unbearable genius"." (page 372)

Did you know ... that singer Maria Bethânia threw herself at the feet of Clarice exclaiming, "My goddess"?
Did you know ... that singer Cazuza read her book 'Água viva' 111 times?

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