"What matters is the magnetic love she inspires in those susceptible to her. For them, Clarice is one of the great emotional experiences of their lives. But her glamour is dangerous. “Be careful with Clarice,” a friend told a reader decades ago. “It’s not literature. It’s witchcraft.” Benjamin Moser, in his introduction to The Collected Short Stories of Clarice Lispector
I first entered the world of Clarice Lispector when I was kindly given a digital review copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ćlarice Lispector. With a marvelous introduction by Benjamin Moser, I think many will find the reading of these stories the start of a deep fascination with Lispector's work and life. I think the publication of this collection of short stories will be at least the most important translated work of short stories in 2015. It is said among short story people that Kathernine Mansfield is the only writer that ever frightened Virginia Woolf, I would just say she never met Clarice Lispector.
After I finished my first read through of the short story collection, I have posted on about ten of the stories and will be rereading and posting more as time goes on, I read Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser. This is a truly excellent biography which goes deeply into her cultural roots. By coincidence shortly before I encountered Lispector I read the complete Yale Yiddish Library and Moser helped me understand the ways in which Lispector is part of the tradition of Jewish Kabbalstic thinkers and how her early life in the Jewish shetls in the very anti-Jewish Ukraine shape her fiction. Also in the very long ago I studied Spinoza and this helped me. Moser lets us see the impact of Spinoza in the work of Lispector, especially in her perhaps most overtly philosophical work The Passion According to G. R.
G.R is the female narrator of the novel. She is an affluent well regarded sculpturor living in Rio de Janeiro. The novel is all about a long very widely ranging interior monologue initiated in the mind of G.R. when she enters the room of her live in maid who recently quit. She was shocked to see a drawing of herself on the wall. There are strong post colonial and racial matters in The Passion of G.R, the maid was black. She then sees a roach on the floor of the maid's room. She has a horror of roaches and she slams the door on the roach. He is partially crushed but not killed.
She begins to reflect on the very ancient, long before man, history of the roach. Soon all human history unfolds before her. She begins to reflect on the nature of divinity and of God.
This book way transcends my ability to describe it. I knew pretty much what exoect in The Passion of G.R. as Moser talks about it a lot in his biography but it still shocked me.