Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Obsession" by Clarice Lispector - Her First Truly Great Story plus "Gertrudes Asks for Advice" and "Another Couple of Drinks"

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

"Obsession", the third story in the collection convinced me of the oft proclaimed genius of Clarice Lispector.  We have to guess the date of publication of the stories as they are not to be found in the collection.   It is about a woman's multi-layered passage of self discovery.  I will just quote a few passages as I am disinclined right now to say more.  A short blog post done for those who have not read the story would not be useful right now.  

"And the greatest harm Daniel did me was awaken within me that desire that lies latent inside us all. For some people it awakens and merely poisons them, as for me and Daniel. For others it leads to laboratories, journeys, absurd experiences, to adventure. To madness."

One of the tensions I find animating the short stories of Lispector is the bipolar desires to rise above what she sees as a world in a stupor to a quietitude from thought.

Almost all the stories I gave so far read center on a woman with problematic relationships with a man, a man perhaps or probably her intellectual inferior but who she nevertheless anchors her world upon.

"Perhaps Daniel had acted merely as an instrument, perhaps my destiny really was the one I pursued, the destiny of those set loose upon the earth, of those who don’t measure their actions according to Good and Evil, perhaps I, even without him, would have discovered myself some day, perhaps, even without him, I would have fled Jaime and his land. How can I know?"

I think this story would be very good for class discussions.

The other two stories are very interesting. 

Mel u

Clarice Lispector (1920–1977) was Brazilian journalist, translator and author of fiction. Born in Western Ukraine into a Jewish family who suffered greatly during the pogroms of the Russian Civil War, she was still an infant when her family fled the disastrous post-World War I situation for Rio de Janiero. At twenty-three, she became famous for her novel, Near to the Wild Heart, and married a Brazilian diplomat. She spent much of the forties and fifties in Europe and the United States, helping soldiers in a military hospital in Naples during World War II and writing, before leaving her husband and returning to Rio in 1959. Back home, she completed several novels including The Passion According to G.H. and The Hour of the Star before her death in 1977 from ovarian cancer.  - from New Directions Publishing web

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