Lispector said of the novel, ‘I was chasing after something and there was nobody to tell me what it was’… The Besieged City arrives to us today as an artifact and a time capsule, a bittersweet revelation.

The Paris Review

Now in paperback, The Besieged City—Clarice Lispector’s electrifying third novel—tells of a shallow girl becoming a desirable but highly materialistic woman in a rough-and-ready town

Available Jun, 25 2024

Included in the Available Titles catalog

The Besieged City

Fiction by Clarice Lispector

Translated from Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz

Edited by Benjamin Moser

Rich with visions, miraculous horses, and linguistic ecstasy, The Besieged City stars Lucrécia. Clarice Lispector’s heroine is a materialistic girl free of the burden of thought: “Behold, behold, all of her, terribly physical, one of the objects.”

“The object—the thing,” Lispector once remarked, “always fascinated me and in a certain sense destroyed me. In my book The Besieged City I speak indirectly about the mystery of the thing. The thing is a specialized and immobilized animal.

Seven decades after its original publication, Clarice Lispector’s third novel—the story of a girl and the city her gaze reveals—is in English at last.

Lucrécia Neves is ready to marry.

Her suitors—soldierly Felipe, pensive Perseu, dependable Mateus—are attracted to her tawdry not-quite-beauty, which is of a piece with São Geraldo, the rough-and-ready township she inhabits.

Civilization is on its way to this place, where wild horses still roam. As Lucrécia is tamed by marriage, São Geraldo gradually expels its horses; and as the town strives for the highest attainment it can conceive—a viaduct—it takes on the progressively more metropolitan manners that Lucrécia, with her vulgar ambitions, desires too. Yet it is precisely through this woman’s superficiality—her identification with the porcelain knickknacks in her mother’s parlor—that Clarice Lispector creates a profound and enigmatic meditation on “the mystery of the thing.”

Written in Europe shortly after Clarice Lispector’s own marriage, The Besieged City is a proving ground for the intricate language and the radical ideas that characterize one of her century’s greatest writers—and an ironic ode to the magnetism of the material.

Paperback(published Jun, 25 2024)

ISBN
9780811238502
Price US
16.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
240

Clothbound(published Apr, 30 2019)

ISBN
9780811226714
Price US
23.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
240

Ebook

ISBN
9780811226721
Portrait of Clarice Lispector

Clarice Lispector

20th-century Brazilian writer

Lispector said of the novel, ‘I was chasing after something and there was nobody to tell me what it was’… The Besieged City arrives to us today as an artifact and a time capsule, a bittersweet revelation.

The Paris Review

In her third novel, acclaimed Brazilian luminary Lispector merges the personal with the mythopoetic in the story of a town transforming into a city and a girl observing it. Lucrécia Neves lives with her widowed mother in São Geraldo, a place ‘already mingling some progress with the smell of the stable.’ Dazzling [with] unexpected flashes of humor (‘Something without interest to anyone was happening, surely “real life”’). But what matters most is Lucrécia’s way of seeing, which she continues even in sleep, ‘rubbing, forging, polishing, lathing, sculpting, the demented master-carpenter—preparing palely every night the material of the city.’ Her visionary function is essential and timeless. Dreamlike, dense, original, [and with] a cumulative power. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Beautiful.

Los Angeles Times

Lispector made her own rules, free of the world’s constraints, and here, in her third novel, an ordinary story and apparently shallow protagonist are no impediments to formidable experiment…Having read her, one feels different, elated.

Booklist

I’m really obsessed by this writer from Brazil, Clarice Lispector. I love her because she writes whole novels where not one thing happens—she describes the air. I think she’s such a great, great novelist.

John Waters

Underneath Lispector’s inventive, modernist style is a poignant and radical depiction of a young woman navigating a patriarchal society.

The Paris Review

Lispector’s prose lilts and sways, its rhythm shakes at once with closeness and distance. The sensory power Lispector is able to draw from her sentences is here given free rein and the descriptive character of the text is wild with excess, seeking to imbue everything simultaneously with solidity, material presence, and transience, fluidity.

Music & Literature

Lispector’s novel offers a pristine view of an ordinary life, told in her forceful, one-of-a-kind voice that captures isolated moments with poetic intensity.

Publishers Weekly

Dreamlike, dense, original, this challenging novel has a cumulative power. Highly recommended.

Kirkus (starred review)