The Hour of the Star is a story of abandonment that simultaneously offers solace When you read the narrator Rodrigo s words, that tell the brief and nostalgic tale of Macab a, if you sense in Lispector last novel less of the author andof the characters, that isn t quite true Macab a, a wretched woman who barely has conscience of her own existence, after losing her only link with the world, an old aunt, moves to Rio de Janeiro There she rents a room, gets a job as typist and spends her hours listening to the radio She falls in love with Ol mpio de Jesus, a metal worker who soon betrays her Desperate, Macab a visits a fortune teller who predicts a brilliant future for her, not what she expected at all.
Even creating a false author for the story, Lispector is not able to hide behind him If in small shared past experiences or through concealed truths So, small glimpses of the author s life emerge And through Rodrigo s own wonderings, that tell so much and so little Or through Macab a herself Lispector did indeed visit a fortune teller when was growing up, as she tells in one of her pieces in her weely newspaper column Included, I hope, in her great Selected Cronicas , where she also tried not to show too much of herself but ended doing just that So, there is much of the author in The Hour of the Star The desire to hide, which real death soon would consolidate, ultimately disappointed Despite the tragedy you will read about, the story is beautifully toldShe believed in angels, and, because she believed, they existedAnd like that, she writes onSo long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing I swear that this book is made up without words It is a mute photography This book is a silence This book is a questionmy own free translations from Portuguese.
For all that, Clarice Lispector is one of my favorite Brazilian authors I read her last novel many years ago, in Portuguese, and briefly revisited it now Magnificent, simple and above all sublime Highly recommended In this remarkable novella Clarice Lispector uses an intricate narrative structure in order to represent a peculiar state of mind, something I found utterly refreshing That mind belongs to Rodrigo, a well off and cultured man, struggles to tell the story of Macab a, an unhygienic, sickly, unlovable, completely forgettable person, and an altogether unideal typist living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro She is taken almost directly from stereotype What Lispector does with her however, is investigate the psychological consequences of poverty.
Macabea s ignorance does not spare her from fear or loneliness but perversely it does leave her prepared for the misery that confounds in her in a way Within Macabea is some resilience and a will to survive Not with the pomp and thrust of the privileged Although Rodrigo claims he s the only person who could love Macab a if only because she s the subject of his narrative he really tells her story as a way to thwart his own weariness and isolation Lispector employs odd sentence fragments and erratic grammatical choices to highlight the importance of imagination as a means for her characters to liberate themselves from their banal existences Through Rodrigo s narrative, Lispector artfully ponders the fate of her characters, and their fears and desires, set against a harsh and unforgiving cityscape Despite the narrators protestation of emotional detachment, we see a man wailing endlessly for the disaster that is Macabea He may state things that are unthinkable, but his passion for her plight shines through every one of his words Despite this, the narrative comes at us from within the narrator, we see the story wriggling out of him He creates a relationship with between himself and Macabea, between reason and instinct, knowledge and innocence, the imagination and reality One of the most incredible aspects of Clarice Lispector s style is her ability to work from abstracts She does not launch from a firm platform She is able to work from emotion to give credence to the most ludicrous of Macabea s summations about her day We are convinced by both the narrator s perspective and by Macabea s The book deals with the enormity of the human condition, a philosophical subject far beyond the reach of Macabea s ability to grasp, and yet Macabea is able to experience her own resonance Mostly with the simple question Who am I Lispector herself defined her book as one made without wordsa mute photographa silencea question And I can see what she is getting at The tale of Macab a can be read at different levels and lends itself to various interpretations The book s subtle interplay of fiction and philosophy sums up Lispector s unique talent as a writer and her lasting influence on the contemporary world.
Startlingly original The Hour of the Star trips up our concept of the novel What a story is expected to do How characters act Why writers write Why readers read It s an experience to savour Bewildering as it was brilliant, magical as it was bleak, touching as it was discomforting It was like being taken through a labyrinth of emotion It seemed at every turn a different mindset was waiting The outside world simply didn t exist whilst I was fully engaged within it s pages I found it so mesmerizing I actually read it again this morning obviously it helped being under 100 pages.
The Hour Of The Star, Clarice Lispector S Consummate Final Novel, May Well Be Her Masterpiece Narrated By The Cosmopolitan Rodrigo SM This Brief, Strange, And Haunting Tale Is The Story Of Macab A, One Of Life S Unfortunates Living In The Slums Of Rio De Janeiro And Eking Out A Poor Living As A Typist, Macab A 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, Macab A 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 At times known as the greatest Jewish writer since Kafka, Clarice Lispector was one of the foremost Brazilian writers of the 20th century Born Chaya Pinkhasovna, her family emigrated from the Ukraine to Recife, Brazil when young Chaya was a littlethan a year old It was in the northeastern corner of South America s largest country that Lispector found the inspiration for her life s work writing The Hour of the Star is called by many to be her greatest work, published within a year of her death in 1977 Because this novella is an entry in 500 Great books By Women by Erica Bauermeister, I was intrigued to read this unique view on life and death amid the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Lispector chooses to make Brazilian poverty, still a hot button issue today, as the focus of her last novel In the opening pages, it is unclear who the novel s main protagonist is, but after an opening stream of consciousness monologue, we meet Macabea, who has come to Rio from Alagoas, close to Lispector s home state of Recife While the Pinkhasovna family became Americanized almost immediately upon arrival in Brazil, Lispector consequently did not write about Jewish themes however, as her own mortality loomed, she created a character in Macabea, who was both Jewish and autobiographical Sharing my own family s Ukrainian origins, the I found the concept of a character based on the Macabees intriguing, and I was able to empathize with Macabea once I got past the surreal opening existential sequence Macabea was rejected from childhood Her parents both passed away, and she was raised by an aunt who resembled an evil stepmother She deprived Macabea of all joys in life, physically beating to the point of sterility As soon as Macabea came of age in Alagoas, the aunt wanted to be rid of her and sent her packing to a cramped apartment in the red light slum district of Brazil One could not help but feel for sorry for this protagonist she was ugly yet did not realize it, a virgin, too poor to eat muchthan Coca Cola and coffee without milk, and only got paid from her boss as an afterthought Macabea evokes a mixture of Cinderella, an adult Cosette, and Eliza Doolittle before she was rescued from poverty In a nutshell, Macabea is an ugly duckling of the world with no future as she lives in the slums of Rio, one of the world s most impoverished neighborhoods It would take a miracle to save this young woman who unfortunately does not realize how horrendous her existence is.
Even the other characters in this novella view Macabea as beyond salvation Olimpico comes from the same town in northeastern Brazil and befriends her not as a boyfriend, but because he feels sorry for her bleak life Yet, Macabea is too dim to realize this and pins false hopes on their almost nonexistent relationship Adding to sorrow is that Macabea naively introduces Olimpico to her sensuous co worker Gloria and the two immediately become a couple Each succeeding paragraph adds to Macabea s grief, and one could almost wish that she was better off dead Interspersed with the prose are many asides in Lispector s own voice as an author She apologizes to her readers that much of Macabea s story is actually her own and that she has to take breaks from creating these one dimensional characters because she has grown tired of them Yet, the protagonist and author are one and the same hailing from Recife, living in pain, fighting off eventual death As a result I looked past the existentialism and stream of consciousness that I do not usually enjoy to find out if the end result for Macabea was death or the survival reminiscent of her namesake.
The Hour of the Star is my first forage into the greatest of Clarice Lispector For a novella, this story had to be taken in chunks because it was tough to swallow all in one sitting Knowing that this was published posthumously and written while Lispector was dying of cancer made me empathize all thewith her protagonist Macabea Despite the writing style that I am usually not fond of, I found this story to hold my attention, if not for the sorrows befalling both the lead protagonist and author I would be intrigued to readof Lispector s earlier novels to get a further glimpse at her body of work, one that lead to her inclusion in an anthology of great books written by women.
75 stars I returned to Clarice Lispector in the hopes of finding an appreciation for her that I missed in The Passion According to G.
, which confounded and tortured me in its nonsensical, philosophical maze I hoped to redeem my less than stellar opinion of her by reading this, her last work.
Sadly, even in the first few paragraphs, I was sighing Clarice For fuck s sake Clarice, as it turns out, is still Clarice And by that I mean, Clarice is a brilliant wackadoodle whose utter originality sets her in a class on her own It is her signature, her snowflake, her own 148 pointed star You will either love her, or not She s so slippery to read I find nothingness in paragraphs that slide by, and I get this erroneous feeling that I could skip pages and not miss anything That I could get to the end of her work with my eyes closed and be none the wiser And then I read lines like this All the world began with a yes.
Thinking is an act Feeling is a fact.
I write because I m desperate and I m tired, I can no longer bear the routine of being me and if not for the always novelty that is writing, I would die symbolically every day.
And I feel an admiration for her, even if she is so far away from me that I cannot touch her, in all her glorious nothingness.
I read somewhere that Clarice Lispector was not well read She was like an innocent in the literary world, untainted by other books She didn t know what it was to be kafka esque or compare herself with thinkers like Camus or Woolf She came to her typewriter with a lack of self consciousness, a purity, that is quite wonderful.
So when I approach this novelette, with its eccentric narrator who goes on and on, and on for about 1 4 of the time about simply the telling of the story without actually telling anything at all, when I listen to absurd dialogue punctuated with deep philosophical statements, when I follow the life of a character that I really don t know and about whom I feelconfusion than curiosity, when I am frustrated and bored with the relentless esoteric intensity, and get the sense that this writer was in love with her own mindthan anything else I pause, and think thank goodness for her, this unicorn of the written word, who brought herself to her art, whether you like it or not.
The Lispector CallsThe Hour of the Star transcends genre How, with utter fluidity, does an apparently conventional narrative transform itself into the author s introspective confessional And when does that slip into narcissistic myopia which then becomes therapeutic technique Before it develops simultaneously into a romance, a feminist tract, and a pointed sociological commentary All in 90 pages Clarice Lispector is difficult to keep up with simply because she writes the simplest prose with undoubtedly the highest ratio of thought to word on the planet It takes time to digest One can open to any page to find a dozen arresting examples The truth is always some inner power without explanation Remember that, no matter what I write, my basic material is the word which combines with other words to form phrases and from which there emanates a secret meaning that exceeds both words and phrases God belongs to those who succeed in pinning him down Why is there so much God At the expense of men what is fully mature is very close to rotting Death is an encounter with self The reader is bounced on her sea of prose like a survivor from a wrecked civilisation Withpensees per page than Pascal, meatier aphorisms than Montaigne, contradictions and reversals to challenge the Bible, and offbeat observations to rival Borges, Poe and Kafka, if you like your fiction and your thinking densely packaged, you cannot go wrong with Lispector.
Every once in a while she wandered into the better neighborhoods and gazed at the shop windows glittering with jewels and satin clothes just to mortify herself a bit Because she needed to find herself and suffering a little is a way of findingOne of these days, I m going to put out a list of 100 most iconic book characters I have read and Macabea of this little book is going to be one of them She is beautiful, she is healthy, she is confident, she is clever, she is witty, she is wealthy, she is wise Okay, she is very opposite of all these things She was a typist who was a terrible dresser, lived on only hot dogs and love coca cola.
That is kind of people I like Her poverty falls short only of her stupidity But it is because of this stupidity, that she is happy she doesn t understand how sad and miserable she is In a world where people are defined those very qualities, she is lacking in, she is a non entity but she doesn t know it, and that is what keeps her from sadnessIf she was dumb enough to ask herself who am I she would fall flat on her face Because who am I creates a need And how can you satisfy that need Those who wonder are incompleteA person so naive but why Why must she be so naive I think some of us discover ourselves in solitude while others discover themselves among people Macabea was, unfortunately, one of former groupShe had a room all to herself She could hardly believe that all this space was hers And not a word was heard So she danced in an act of absolute courage since her aunt couldn t hear her She danced and twirled because being alone made her f r e eUnfortunately, because solitude is a luxury of rich, she lives in a slum in a room with women exactly like her Solitude is a rare lottery, sadness is an unaffordable luxurySadness was the privilege of the rich, of those who could afford it, of those who had nothing better to do Sadness was a luxuryShe even finds a boyfriend, a terrible person The first time they meet it is raining The second time they meet it is raining againThe third time they met wouldn t you know it was raining the guy, irritated and losing the light varnish of politeness that his stepfather had taught him with great effort, said All you ever do is rainThe whole story of full of such beautiful moments, evenbeautiful writing and funny movements told with dramatic effect of small and big explosions Frankly, she becomes so adorable by the end that I wish I was a few years older and she a real person, so that I could adopt her I mean consider this passageSpeaking of novelties, the girl one day saw in a corner bar a man so, so, so good looking that that she wanted to have him at home It would be, like like having a big emerald emerald emerald in an open jewel box Untouchable From the ring she saw he was married How to marry marry marry a being who was only to to to be seen, she stammered in her thoughts She d die of embarrassment to eat in front of him because he was good looking beyond any person s possible balanceI really don t know how this book doesn t make it to the lists of best books Modernism, evocative, thought provoking, beautiful prose, comic events, amazing character what else could you like But explosion her story is not written by Lispector itself, it is written by another male character, an authorI am absolutely tired of literature only muteness keeps me company If I still write it s because I have nothing better to do in the world while I wait for deathWho intends to write her story in the traditional manner which is ironic because he is himself a part of the modern novel a novel with several titles, and a novel that is also about the act of writing how a story writes itself, and not only itself but it writes the author too changing him irrevocably He begins by deciding that he will stay indifferent to his character butI have to say that the girl isn t aware of me, if she was she d have someone to pray to and that would mean salvation But I m fully aware of her through this young person I scream my horror of life Of this life I love so muchDid CL too scream horrors of her life through Macabea She does share Judaism and northeast childhood with her character and she too had worked as a typewriter while with the intermediary author she might have shared thoughts on literature and death it was her last novel.
More quotesshe was happy but how it ached She sat there leaning her head on her shoulder the way a dove gets sad She believed in angels, and because she believed in them, they existed Lately I find myself in the frustrating position not uncommon among booksellers of being surrounded by farbooks than I can read Not only are there books in the shop, but in my spare moments at work I browse Goodreads, Abebooks and my local library system, and so have a constant stream of books passing through my hands, many of which I can do nothan glance at before returning them or putting them away for later Into this deluge has flowed this novella by Clarice Lispector, a book which I hear tell was scribbled on scraps of paper at intervals of months or years before coalescing into its current form, and which is on one level as evanescent and difficult to grasp as this technique suggests, even while being on another as direct as a bullet to the heart at ten paces Imagine that famous Goya painting with the white shirt and the firing squad, but focus on the victim s face until you re so close the ridges in the paint are as important as moving as his expression Ever read the Borges story The Secret Miracle When the raindrop which has hit Jaromir Hladik s face just as time stopped starts sliding again, that s maybe something like the little self conscious explosions with which Lispector riddles her narrative Structurally, strip Beckett s Malone Dies to the bone the fictional writer who tells the story as much the protagonist as s he whose story he tells and you ve got a rough outline of The Hour of the Star I say rough because either this is a book to read two or three times before knowing anything certain about it or my current white water reading technique is just not up to the task Whatever the case, this is a hard book to comprehend, coming as it does so directly from a place beyond comprehension, and I presume Lispector made a habit, like Beckett, of gazing intently on things beyond comprehension Still, it s not a difficult book not on the level of language, anyway and reports of the strangeness of its prose have, to my mind, been exaggerated To me it reads quite naturally, especially in the new translation, and from what few pages I saw of the old translation I suggest forgetting that relic immediately and getting your hands on this one It s modern, that s for damn sure I doubt there is much else out there as sleek and arresting and asymmetrical as this And it s haunting Lispector speaks through her male narrator who speaks through his character Maccabea I had just read on the train to and from work, as perhaps readers of the Brazilian newspaper which published them might have read them Lispector s Chronicas when I started the novella, and consequently had a vivid, if oblique, impression of her in mind as I read this Unfortunately I don t have a copy of The Hour of the Star with me as I write, but perhaps these lines from one of her Chronicas Creating Brasilia will help suggest the kind of writer she is or can be Brasilia is built on the line of the horizon.
When I died, I opened my eyes one day and there was Brasilia.
The two architects who planned Brasilia were not interested in creating something beautiful That would be too simple they created their own terror, and left that terror unexplained.
Besides the wind, there is another thing that blows It can only be recognised in the supernatural rippling of the lake Wherever you stand, you have the impression of being on the edge of a dangerous precipice.
Its founders tried to ignore the importance of human beings The dimensions of the city s buildings were calculated for the heavens It is a shore without any sea.
How I should love to set white horses free here in Brasilia At night, they would become green under the light of the moon I know what those two men wanted that slowness and silence which are also my idea of eternity.
Fear has always guided me to the things I love and because I love, I become afraid.
What kind of writer is Clarice Lispector The rarest kind The fact that her Chronicas ever made it into a newspaper at all let alone week after week is, to this Australian, astonishing That The Hour of the Star is a bestseller and its author a household name in her own country is even so Judging from what little I ve read, Lispector s ruthless stripping away of everything but the visionary intuitive paradoxical is unmatched by any prose writer except Beckett, and when and if I ever have the time and resources to do so I will approach her ouevre as I once approached his piece by piece, in a quiet room in the country with her biography close at hand This is a work so elemental it seems hewn from rock, or washed up on the shore in Brasilia from that non existent sea If I don t give it a perfect score it s only because I don t yet know if she speaks directly to my heart But her example, her aesthetic determination, is unsurpassed.
Clarice Lispector this woman, our contemporary, a Brazilian woman it is not books that she gives us, but the act of living saved by books, narratives, constructions that make us step back And then, through her window writing, we enter into the frightening beauty of learning how to read and we pass, through the body, to the other side of the I To love the truth of what is alive, to love the origin, to be personally interested in the impersonal, in the animal, in the thing Helene Cixious
A to Z around the world personal challenge B is for Brazil As you can see, my challenge is progressing badly together with my reading in general Due to life I did not have the time or the mood to read anything for the past 2 3 weeks and I also made a swift disappearance from here I hope I m back to reading and to GR but I can t be sure I finished The Hour of The Star three weeks ago and I waited for the inspiration to hit me so I can write a meaningful review As that did not happen a few mumbling words will have to do When I first started this novella I was sure I was going to hate it I don t really like pretentious writers who do their best to sound complicated and confuse the reader However, as I progressed, I discovered that I warmed up to the author and the writingAll the world began with a yes One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born But before prehistory there was the prehistory of the prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes It was ever so I don t know why, but I do know that the universe never began.
Make no mistake, I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort As you can see, even the writer narrator tells us she has problems with simplicity What we have here is a wordy and philosophical narrator who sets out to tell the story of a poor girl from North of Brasil but while doing so talks a lotabout himself, his reason for writing and the struggle to create a story In the narrators s own wordsThe story, I determine with false free will will have around seven characters and I am obviously one of theimportantthis statement is contrary to his goal in the novel which is to tell the story of the girl as humbly as possible It is almost comical how the narrator starts to write about the girl then comes back to his struggles as writer and back to the story There is no plot to be found here, not really, but I found myself sucked in and looking forward to see where the narrator takes me it was different reading experience.
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