The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lipsector, published August, 2015, translated by Katrina Dodson, edited and introduced by Benjamin Moser
My Prior Posts on Clarice Lispector
"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"
Yes, Clarice is witchcraft.
"There was no holocaust: it all wanted to be eaten as badly as we wanted to eat it. Saving nothing for the next day, there and then I made an offering of whatever I was feeling to whatever was making me feel. It was a way of living that I hadn’t paid in advance with the suffering of waiting, a hunger born when the mouth is already nearing the food. Because now we were hungry, a complete hunger that encompassed everything down to the crumbs."
The more I read of the stories of Clarice, the more drawn under her spell I fall, the more I read, the more mystified I become. Sometimes I feel a contempt for people and a deep hatred for the human condition in her work combined with a striving not so much to rise above that, Clarice knows that will not happen, but to simply be in an unreflective way. To eat, to bask in the sun of Rio while pondering the holocaust. In the story the narrator is on a train trip on Saturday to go to dinner with people she does not care about, she resents to lose of her Saturday. The food served becomes. almost a religious experience, eating an act of worship.
I love this so perhaps all the more because I know my three readings and my Lispector neophyte status make it beyond my comprehension. Maybe like the feast, it simply is.
"The food was saying crudely, happily, austerely: eat, eat and share. All that belonged to me, it was my father’s table. I ate without tenderness, I ate without the passion of piety. And without offering myself to hope. I ate with no longing. And I really did deserve that food. Because I can’t always be my brother’s keeper, and I can’t be my own any longer, oh I don’t want myself any longer. And I don’t want to shape life since existence already exists. It exists like some ground over which we all advance. Without a word of love. Without a word. But your pleasure understands mine. We are strong and we eat. Bread is love among strangers"