Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Preciousness" by Clarice Lispector



The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lipsector, published August, 2015, translated by Katrina Dodson, edited and introduced by Benjamin Moser 


With the publication of this collection, it is as if a star has exploded in the short story world.  Many will see the reading of her stories as among the greatest of their lifetime reading experiences.  Some will not feel her power.  Benjamin Moser says her work is "witchcraft, not literature".  

I think soon her stories will be heavily analyzed by post-colonial scholars, feminist readers, South American studies, and those who follow the lead of Moser and see her as in the tradition of Jewish writers.  Historians of race and social class in Brazil will find her works a gold mind.  I also strongly urge the reading of Benjamin Moser's biography.  Her works will be studied as if they are texts in an ancient religion, ones for a dark time like those we may now be entering.  I know those who have not yet entered her world or even heard of her will find my words hyperbolic.  On the other side, there will be found those who will say I am holding back, not articulating her full power.  

My Prior Posts on Clarice Lispector 




When I first posted on a short story by Clarice Lispector I was already certain the publication of her complete short stories would be the most important event in short stories in translation in 2015.  I now think for sure it will be seen as the most important event in the short story world in 2015 and  I see it as almost certainly the major literary event in the Anglophone world.  The 86 stories in the collection should be all read so you can see Clarice develop.  Then you should go back and read the stories that speak most deeply to you several times.  

"Preciousness" is told in the persona of a fifteen year old Rio school girl.  She is up early to make her long commute to school.  A focus of the story can be seen as the girl's awakening sense of her sexuality.  As she makes the commute, she sees her self as "not pretty", she fears men in the bus will look at her.  She also has a sense if class consciousness, she comes from an affluent family with a maid and the men on the bus are working class.  She seems to dread her sexual development, talks almost of becoming a nun to avoid sex.  There are a few brief lines in her conversatio. With the maid that are just so amazing.  They are almost a history of race relations in Brazil.  Long story short, maids and workmen are dark, the affluent lighter skinned.  Brazil hid from its African roots for generations and this is buried deep in this story.  


Mel u

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