Clarice Lispector Doesn’t Exist
Maybe it’s just me, but I find the editor commentaries on the sides of these Recommended Reading offerings nearly as interesting as the stories themselves. Here’s a bit from Benjamin Moser’s introduction for an excerpt from Clarice Lispector’s “Near to the Wild Heart”:
“The whole book,” critics wrote, “is a miracle of balance, perfectly engineered,” combining the “intellectual lucidity of the characters of Dostoevsky with the purity of a child.” In October 1944 the book won the prestigious Graça Aranha Prize for the best debut novel of 1943. The prize was a confirmation of what the Folha Carioca had discovered earlier that year when it asked its readers to elect the best novel of 1943. Near to the Wild Heart won with 457 votes. Considering that only 900 copies had actually been put on sale, it was a spectacular number. The unprecedented ovation that greeted Clarice Lispector’s debut was also the beginning of the legend of Clarice Lispector, a tissue of rumors, mysteries, conjectures, and lies that in the public mind became inseparable from the woman herself. In 1961 a magazine reporter wrote, “There is a great curiosity surrounding the person of Clarice. She seldom appears in literary circles, avoids television programs and autograph sessions, and only a few rare people have been lucky enough to talk to her. ‘Clarice Lispector doesn’t exist,’ some say.”
Read the rest of Moser’s comments and the novel excerpt at Recommended Reading.