Clarice Lispector is a charming witch. And the reader will never cease to be yours

came from one mystery, left for another.
We are left without knowing the essence of the mystery.
Or the mystery was not essential.
Essential was Clarice traveling on it.
Thus Carlos Drummond de Andrade defined Clarice Lispector (1920-1977). And so many other writers and researchers have been trying to understand its mystery. In her centenary, completed this Thursday, the 10th, the writer remains indefinable. Whoever begins to read Clarice Lispector will spend his life with his books in his hands. “Will be hooked”, as professor Nádia Battella Gotlib, from the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH) of USP, defines, a pioneer in research on the life and work of the writer. “I started reading when I was Clarice Letters student at the University of Brasilia (UNB), in 1960 I won the gift book Family Ties a teacher and this book intrigued me. I was hooked. ”

The reader Nádia started to research, study and write. He published Clarice, Uma Vida Que se Conta , from Editora Ática, in 1995. And its sixth edition was revised and increased by Editora da USP (Edusp) in 2009. A year earlier, also by Editora da USP, it launched Clarice Fotobiografia .

Professor Nádia goes with Clarice Lispector around the world through articles, seminars and, since March, in the form of lives and webnars, presented in institutions in Brazil and abroad, from England to Ukraine. “The centenary happens, unfortunately, in the midst of the pandemic. And, in fact, at a time of neglect by the cultural sector. On the other hand, there is the digital medium, which enables communication. So far, I have participated in events in ten countries. ”

Clarice or Chaya Pinkhasovna Lispector, who was born in a village in present-day Ukraine, is one of the most widely read Brazilian writers abroad. It has about 200 translations in ten languages. Two years ago, Hora da Estrela was translated into Arabic by Egyptian researcher Maged ElGebaly.

The reasons for Clarice’s work to win the world are many, including the ability to awaken the reader for himself and for the other. “Reading Clarice is always good, whether in confinement or not. However, nowadays, her literature assumes even more importance, as she exercises herself – and takes us together, through her language – to build and perfect respect for others, including minorities, the marginalized, the ‘humiliated and offended’, the title of Dostoevsky’s novel mentioned in A Hora da Estrela ”, comments professor Nádia. “Denounces both police violence, as in the chronicle Mineirinho , and hunger, in As Meninos Chatas. And it values living beings, men, plants and animals. After all, wouldn’t this kind of communion with nature be what the character Ana, in the short story Amor , experiences when she is in the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro? This repertoire assumes vital importance at the moment when forests are being burned, animals are being killed by the action of fire and millions of Brazilians are going through the torment of unemployment. ”

“Clarice’s repertoire takes on ‘vital’ importance at the moment when forests are being burned, animals are being killed by the action of fire and millions of Brazilians go through the torment of unemployment…”

In her research to write Clarice, Uma Vida que se Conta, Nádia examined texts from different narrative genres. “She wrote chronicles, short stories, novels, children’s literature, women’s pages, about 450. And also letters, in addition to a book of Brazilian legends, a conference, a play, an article on translation and interviews, as an interviewer, for Rio periodicals. ”

In this universe, however, there are recurring themes. “One of them is Clarice herself, who mentions ‘the search for the thing’. In fact, characters, especially women, at times are taken by language to another territory, which is not that of logic, but what it calls ‘behind thinking’, in which singular and complex experiences emerge, of enchantment and disgust, paradoxically involved in the same halo of life and death, as if the sense of the human condition was concentrated there, a hellish paradise or a heavenly hell, the ‘heart of the thing’, pulsating living matter. ”

The teacher highlights A Hora da Estrela. “ The novel was published before his death and had the collaboration of Olga Borelli, who was his secretary for the last seven years of Clarice’s life. Olga took on this role because Clarice started to have difficulties writing because of her deformed hand due to a fire in her apartment in 1966. This coincidence between the period of writing – before she became ill – and the date of her death really creates an impression that it is a ‘work of agony’ ”, he analyzes. “Throughout that year he still wrote fragments that would be posthumously collected by Olga Borelli and published in 1978, with the title Um Umpro de Vida. “As for the similarity between the character Macabéa and Clarice, I could say that there are coincidences: they are two Northeasterners who went hungry and faced difficulties in life. The two came from the Northeast to Rio de Janeiro and have characteristics that suggest associations with the Jews: one, by name, Macabéa, which refers to the Maccabees; another, for his own Jewish ancestry and the exile of the family, who came from Ukraine to Brazil to escape the pogroms and thus guarantee survival. ”

“Clarice’s literature provokes, instigates, dismantles what tends to crystallize. It asks for a reader open to innovations in language and breaks with logic. ”

Reading Clarice in her teens and dedicating herself to deciphering her life and work is also the story of Professor Yudith Rosembaum, also from the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP. “I wanted to investigate the writer who took me at the age of 16 with the short story Amor , which I never distanced myself from. It is a matrix text of Clarice’s vision of how we are linked by the networks of affections and roles ”, he explains. “Since then, there have been almost 30 years of living with the author and there is still much to discover.”

The teacher, who wrote Metamorphoses of Evil: A Reading by Clarice Lispector , published in 1999 and relaunched by Edusp in 2006, and Clarice Lispector , in 2002, by Publifolha, is already preparing to launch the third book.

The work of Nádia and Yudith is a reference for researchers of Clarician work in the country and abroad. “I have no doubt that Clarice’s texts, like those of great authors such as Machado de Assis, Guimarães Rosa, among others, move their readers from familiar and usual places, problematize what the subject knows about himself and the world. And they do awaken new reflections ”, highlights Yudith. “Clarice’s literature provokes, instigates, dismantles what tends to crystallize. It asks for a reader open to innovations in language and breaks with logic, with beliefs and values established as ‘natural’. ”

Despite catching the reader, the teacher warns: “It is not always easy to read Clarice because of the amazement we have with her freedom of creation and thought. For your readers, I suggest that they accept the unarmed attitude that the author proposes, as shown by José Miguel Wisnik in his essay Diagrams for a Trilogy by Clarice , in the Letras Magazine , from the Federal University of Paraná. In other words, a delivery in which the reader-work contact does not depend on inserting Clarice into great literary systems, but on hearing the words in their unpredictable and disconcerting resonances. ”

For those who want to start as a reader, the teacher suggests: “The tales of Laços de Família , 1960, may be a good entry, since they maintain, in a way, the most well-known structure of the short story.

As for the theme of stories, Yudith advises: “They condense the reality of women in the midst of the contradictions of marriage, motherhood and family, under the patriarchate of the 1940s and 1950s in Brazil, but already point out in their latency the disruptive power of ties, the encounter with something of the order of the unspeakable, and which will explode in the following book, The Foreign Legion , of 1964, and above all in the novel The Passion According to GH , of the same year, according to Wisnik in the quoted essay. ”

“Macabéa’s process of social and personal alienation resonates with many. She is a us, a national collective. ”

Yudith Rosenbaum highlights Clarice’s multiple and dense themes
Photo: Personal Collection

Yudith also highlights the multiple and dense themes in Clarice’s work that, according to her, seem to revolve around the same recurring core. “It’s like a magnet that attracts everything around you. I think of two central concerns: the dilemmas of writing itself would certainly be a face of this nucleus, making the work bend over itself in deep reflection on the act of writing, which would be a ‘curse’ and a ‘salvation’, in the words of author. The search for ‘Coisa’ is another pole of reiteration, which runs through the work from beginning to end and is perhaps its most complex point. It implies giving form to the report, undertaking a search for something that does not allow itself to be captured by language, but impels narrators and characters to decipher what pulsates in that ‘Thing’.

Philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, sociology and other knowledges can be called upon and shed light on what the Claretian Thing would be, but I suppose it will still rebel and remain intact in its unknowability… ”

The teacher points out other themes attracted by the double face of the magnet, resistant to explanations. “They are powerful engines for Clarice’s plots: dialectics between civilization and barbarism, putting into play the domestication of the savage internal and external to the self; the feminine, it is important to remember that few authors knew how to approach women and their enigma in such a sensitive way; alterity as interdependent on the constitution of the self; the helplessness inherent in the subjectification process and the consequent desire to belong; the split and conflicted subject who is unknown, as psychoanalysis wants; the strange encounter with the foreigner of oneself and of the other, be it animal, people or object, emphasizing that this aspect of the work gains space with characters unrelated to the dominant hegemony, excluded from social life and therefore generating discomfort and malaise: crazy, unreasonable, housekeepers, beggars, outcasts etc .; the forms of intrasubjective violence and also of interpersonal relationships. ”

Yudith’s list is the result of the careful observation of her in detail. He continues: “There is a focus on insignificances, on the small details of existence, on tasteless and neutral organic matter, to surprise an unforeseen force there. I conclude the list, for lack of space, with the theme of the rituals of passage and initiation from childhood to puberty and from this to adult life, in which children and adolescents face the intensities of growth. I will certainly still remember other topics ”.

As for the characters, the researcher highlights GH and Macabéa. “Perhaps they are the most striking, although each reader chooses his own. I quote GH for the dizzying experience of meeting his other social class, Janair, and from there with his ‘other’ species, the cockroach and its insides. I believe that A Paixão Segundo GH is one of the most radical books in Brazilian literature. ”

In A Hora da Estrela , Macabéa attracts the reader for its delicacy and fragility. “She is a woman on the other social edge of poverty, she prints national precariousness and shows, paradoxically, on the back of the massified and oppressed face, a sensitive personality, adhered to the world, without the defensive shells of GH”, compares Yudith. “Macabéa’s process of social and personal alienation resonates with many. She is a we, a national collective. Its unattainable ‘essential delicate’, impenetrable by the narrator Rodrigo SM, has a greater human reach, which escapes the drama of the retirant. She seems to be someone who preserves a state prior to the biblical fall, unaware of the evils of the world. ”

According to the teacher, all of us, with more or less resources, live this same exile “on the land itself” and also fantasize about a place without needs. “But, let us remember that Macabéa, in his emptiness and in his innocence, asks questions about being and life that the Olympic ‘boyfriend’, so secure and so ambitious, cannot answer. Who would know? ”

The desire to be free was always remembered by Clarice Lispector. Did she really live freedom beyond books? Yudith replies: “ Hard to say… She longed for something without a name and perhaps not even freedom would satisfy her. In fact, being free does not dispense with anguish. Instead. According to existentialists, for example, and there is much of this view in Clarice’s work, anguish is inherent in human freedom. For Clarice, as she says in the chronicle The Perfect Artist, art is not freedom, it is liberation, just as it is not innocence but ‘becoming innocent’. Therefore, it is an endless process, a learning that is never fixed, being a continuous flow of setbacks and advances, incorporation of experiences with no promise of progression. Even so, I think that Clarice’s intense and restless personality should feel free in some moments and imprisoned in others, alternating states without rest ”. A speculation that only those who lived with it can attest. “As for the work, I believe in the writer struggling to be free from the genre frames, the rules of grammar, the language frameworks and the limiting ideologies. His work attests to the success of this movement, although, I imagine, it may have been a torment to experience freedom. If the author exposes in her work the ecstasy and hell of the characters when they get rid of the covers of illusion, the same could happen with the person Clarice. Perhaps the great revelation of the Clarician work is in the sentence of its first protagonist, Joana, fromNear the Wild Heart , 1943 debut book: ‘Everything is one’. The perception of the amalgam that we are all made of and the thread that unites us with the world must be an ecstatic experience, but difficult to sustain in our ‘daily soul’, in Clarician terms. ”

When Clarice Lispector dressed Maria.
And Maria Bonomi wore Clarice
A friendship that was born from a party dress. A water-colored dress …
Maria was 23 years old and was on her way as an artist. He studied printmaking at Columbia University and was a fellow at the Pratt Institute Graphics Center in New York. There were many landscapes and dreams on the horizon, but there was no time, no way, to think of a dress for the reception of Latin American scholars. How to go to that dinner in the middle of the White House in Washington?

The way was to ask for help to the Brazilian Embassy. Alzira Vargas, wife of Ambassador Amaral Peixoto, understood the problem. “She looked at me, examined it and said that the secretary’s wife beat me in size and size,” recalls Maria Bonomi. “He made a phone call and I went there with the address in my hand… Shortly after, a beautiful girl answered me: Clarice Lispector in the elegance of her 38 years. She invited me in. Shortly after, we were together choosing clothes from her closet. We separated three dresses for the occasion. All beautiful. The ambassador was right. They were perfect on me. I chose one with the color of the water… ”

But what about the shoes, the gloves, the bag? Clarice had already provided it too. Maria left happily. And since that night in 1958, at the White House, she has dressed up as Clarice Lispector.

“Clarice was silent watching me record the matrix. I transformed into words the details that went unnoticed in each woodcut … ”


Days later, Maria took the dress from the dry cleaner and went to return it. “Clarice answered me, asked me to come in for coffee. I wanted to know every detail of the dinner. “


The student soon felt, despite the age difference, that they shared more than the same size of mannequin. A discovery that was renewed in the stories of each book and each print. “From there, we never left. Clarice was silent watching me record the matrix. I transformed into words the details that went unnoticed in the gestures of each woodcut. I also listened to their stories and their silence that transformed them into landscapes. ”


Bonomi tells me this story, remembering the hundred years that the writer and friend Clarice Lispector completes this next 10th. And shows an article published in Jornal do Brasil on December 2, 1971 with the title Letter about Maria Bonomi .


Clarice Lispector writes: “There is an extremely comfortable and well-lubricated relationship between Maria Bonomi and me. She is me and me she and again she is me. As if we were life twins ”. Maria reaffirms this affinity that spread in Rio de Janeiro, when they were walking to talk about things in life and looking for the apartment where Clarice wanted to live. “My mother lived in Copacabana and I knew the city well.”



The artist and matrix – Photo: Lena Peres


“Maria writes my books and I clumsily carve the wood. And it is also capable of falling into creative turmoil – abyss of good and evil from which shapes, colors and words come out. ”


In this article, the writer says that the friendship between the two was sealed, when she became godmother of baptism of Cássio Luís, son of the painter and of the theater director Antunes Filho. “Maria writes my books and I clumsily carve the wood. And it is also capable of falling into creative turmoil – abyss of good and evil from which shapes, colors and words come out. ”


Once, Maria offered Clarice a picture as a gift. He asked her to choose. This story is recorded in this letter. The writer explains: “And for a moment I was naive and asked for the maximum. Not the print, the matrix itself. And I chose the Eagle . It was afterwards that I realized what I had asked for and my own audacity scared me: how could I have dared to want this huge and heavy hardwood jewel? ”.


What is certain is that Maria did not think twice. Then he sent the Eagle’s matrix (see reproduction of the engraving). An image that remained in Clarice’s dreams, who admitted: “Maria Bonomi’s idea of ​​an eagle haunts me”.


Clarice’s flight suggested by Maria’s eagle landed on its pages. And the writer started to paint. “The eagle with large open wings and a long ivory hooked beak – for that is what I see in its abstraction – for an instant immobilized”, he commented.



Nadia Battella Gotlib: “I was hooked by Clarice…” ”- Photo: Personal Collection

Professor Nádia Battella Gotlib, from the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo and a pioneer researcher on the life and work of Clarice Lispector, talks about her series of paintings in the 1970s. “She admired non-figurative, abstract art . His plastic work, composed of 22 pieces, can be considered as an exercise in dialogue between the two arts: literature and painting. These are strategies for artistic action – the search for the ‘thing’ based on the deconstruction of rigid and fixed forms – that have a mutual impact. There is text registered on your screen. And the composition itself, based on lines, colors, and texture of free brushstrokes, points to similarities with the pictorial resources registered through the word in the practice of his literary art. ”


Through painting, Clarice Lispector dressed up as Maria Bonomi. “I imagine Maria in her studio using her hands, man’s most primitive instrument. With your beautiful hands … ”, he wrote.


When she goes to Rio de Janeiro, Maria visits Leme where the writer lived for 12 years. There, since May 2015, there is a sculpture by Clarice created by Edgar Duvivier. Clarice has a book in her hand, very elegant, next to her dog Ulysses. Maria Bonomi sits on the same bench, next to the beach where they walked and shared secrets. Today, Mary shares infinity.



Clarice Lispetor wins bilingual website with photos, manuscripts and videos


Clarice Lispector is honored in its centenary with a website that gathers photos, manuscripts, audios, videos, letters, classes and critical texts, mostly coming from Clarice’s collection, under the custody of the Moreira Salles Institute since 2004. The highlight is the video class by Yudith Rosenbaum, professor of Brazilian Literature at the University of São Paulo. Specialist in the life and work of the writer, she analyzes the short story Feland clandestina , published in the 1971 volume of the same name.


“The website is divided into two main modes of navigation: an environment of free enjoyment, which presents Clarice’s life and work in a narrative form, and another focused on study and research”, comments Eucanaã Ferraz, literature consultant at IMS. In the first environment, the beautiful and bold graphic design and attractive navigation stand out.


The public can immerse themselves in Clarice’s work and life from a poetic and affective path. Photos, phrases, postcards, manuscripts and interviews, among other materials, appear in different ways on the screen, in a rich experience, full of surprises. Texts and images are freely related, in order to explore the author’s memories, reflections, astonishment and perplexity.


As in a continuous narrative flow, there is, for example, a video of the writer’s son, Paulo Gurgel Valente, commenting on the relationship with the mother; the audio of an interview that the author gave to the Museum of Image and Sound, in 1976, in which she comments on her training as a lawyer; a video by Maria Bethânia interpreting a fragment of the book Água Viva ; pages of Senhor magazine ; the criticism made by Antonio Candido for Perto do Coração Selvagem , Clarice’s first book; the author’s portrait made by the famous painter Giorgio de Chirico, in 1945; all repeated in a kind of loop . Since the field of study siteit is aimed at both school students and academic researchers. It presents an illustrated chronology of the author; the Book to Book section, which brings all Clarice’s books, accompanied by texts that present the works, written by specialists for the website .


There are also video classes, taught by scholars such as the writer Evando Nascimento and professors Nádia Battella Gotlib and José Miguel Wisnik, of Brazilian Literature at USP, in addition to a wide bibliography on Clarice’s work, which the visitor can access through filters, looking for the topics and approaches that interest you most.


Among the collection items, digitized and transcribed, are notebooks of the writer, little known or unpublished, that have just arrived in the IMS collection, and dozens of letters sent by Clarice throughout her life to her sisters, to personalities such as writers Erico Verissimo and Mário de Andrade and ex-president Getúlio Vargas. A number of manuscripts are also available, from works such as A Hora da Estrela and Um Breath of Life .