Skip to content

Clarice Lispector

20th Century Brazilian Writer

Clarice Lispector was born in 1920 to a Jewish family in western Ukraine. As a result of the anti-Semitic violence they endured, the family fled to Brazil in 1922, and Clarice Lispector grew up in Recife. Following the death of her mother when Clarice was nine, she moved to Rio de Janeiro with her father and two sisters, and she went on to study law. With her husband, who worked for the foreign service, she lived in Italy, Switzerland, England, and the United States, until they separated and she returned to Rio in 1959; she died there in 1977. Since her death, Clarice Lispector has earned universal recognition as Brazil's greatest modern writer.


cover image for The Complete Stories

The Complete Stories

Fiction

The recent publication by New Directions of five Lispector novels revealed to legions of new readers her darkness and dazzle. Now, for the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers, to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies, to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Clarice’s stories take us through their lives—and ours.

From one of the greatest modern writers, these eighty-six stories, gathered from the nine collections published during Clarice LIspector’s lifetime, follow her from her teens to her deathbed.


Available: August 04 2015


cover image for Near to the Wild Heart

Near to the Wild Heart

Fiction

Near to the Wild Heart, published in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, introduced Brazil to what one writer called "Hurricane Clarice": a twenty-three-year-old girl who wrote her first book in a tiny rented room and then baptized it with a title taken from Joyce: "He was alone, unheeded, near to the wild heart of life."

The book was an unprecedented sensation — the discovery of genius. Narrative epiphanies and interior monologue frame the life of Joana, from her middle-class childhood through her unhappy marriage and its dissolution to transcendence, when she proclaims: "I shall arise as strong and comely as a young colt."

four_lispectors.jpg

Posters featuring the integrated covers for the four new Clarice Lispector translations are available here.



cover image for A Breath of Life

A Breath of Life

Fiction

A mystical dialogue between a male author (a thinly disguised Clarice Lispector) and his/her creation, a woman named Angela, this posthumous work has never before been translated. Lispector did not even live to see it published. At her death, a mountain of fragments remained to be “structured” by a friend, Olga Borelli. These fragments form a dialogue between a god-like author who infuses the breath of life into his creation: the speaking, breathing, dying creation herself, Angela Pralini. The work’s almost occult appeal arises from the perception that if Angela dies, Clarice will have to die as well.

four_lispectors.jpg

Posters featuring the integrated covers for the four new Clarice Lispector translations are available here.



cover image for Água Viva

Água Viva

Fiction

A meditation on the nature of life and time, Água Viva (1973) shows Lispector discovering a new means of writing about herself, more deeply transforming her individual experience into a universal poetry. In a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically profound as Clarice Lispector’s, Água Viva stands out as a particular triumph.

four_lispectors.jpg

Posters featuring the integrated covers for the four new Clarice Lispector translations are available here.



cover image for The Passion According to G.H.

The Passion According to G.H.

Fiction

The Passion According to G.H., Clarice Lispector's mystical novel of 1964, concerns a well-to-do Rio sculptress, G.H., who enters her maid's room, sees a cockroach crawling out of the wardrobe, and, panicking, slams the door — crushing the cockroach — and then watches it die. At the end of the novel, at the height of a spiritual crisis, comes the most famous and most genuinely shocking scene in brazilian literature…



cover image for The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

Fiction

The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector’s consummate final novel, may well be her masterpiece. Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life’s unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly, and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid the realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly free. She doesn’t seem to know how unhappy she should be. As Macabéa heads toward her absurd death, 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 book she takes readers close to the true mystery of life and leaves us deep in Lispector territory indeed.



cover image for Selected Cronicas

Selected Cronicas

Poetry

The chronicle, a literary genre peculiar to the Brazilian press, allows poets and novelists to address a wide readership on any theme they like. Lispector’s Saturday column from 1967 to 1973 in Rio’s leading newspaper, the Jornal do Brasil, was even by Brazilian standards extraordinarily free-ranging and intimate––astonishingly so to readers of US newspapers. The 156 crônicas collected here (variously taking the form of serialized stories, essays, aphorisms, conversations with taxi drivers, random thoughts, introspective revelations, memories) are endlessly delightful. Her insights make one sit up and think, whether about pets or children or society women or love or the business of writing. 


Available: November 01 1996


cover image for The Foreign Legion

The Foreign Legion

Fiction

The Foreign Legion is a collection in two parts, gathering both stories and chronicles, and it offers wonderful evidence of Clarice Lispector’s unique sensibility and range as an exponent of experimental prose. The Foreign Legion opens with thirteen stories. Delightful, vivid, sometimes mordantly funny, sometimes sad beyond words, the tales bear out The New York Times comment that "Lispector makes language the medium of both imprisonment and liberation... and she does it with an amazingly light and playful touch." The second part of the book presents her newspaper crônicas, which Lispector said she retrieved from a bottom drawer. She offered them as shards, as suggestions, but they are in fact brilliant essays on Brazilian art and society, evocations of her world, conversations with her children, aphorisms – a rich miscellany. Together the stories and chronicles create a showcase of Lispector’s talents to amuse and disturb.


Available: February 01 1992


cover image for Soulstorm

Soulstorm

Poetry

The twenty-nine stories in Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm were originally published in two separate volumes in 1974––The Stations of the Body and Where You Were at Night––and are now combined for the first time and sensitively translated into English by Alexis Levitin. The realm of Lispector’s fiction is the inner life; self-knowledge is her main concern. Like James Joyce’s Dubliners, her characters live small stifled lives, often unaware of their own suffering, but her lucid and richly textured narratives allow us, the readers, the epiphanies that they themselves are denied.


Available: June 01 1989