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, September 9, 2015

"Where Were You at Night" by Clarice Lispector (1973)

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 

"He-she was already there atop the mountain, and she was personalized in the he and he was personalized in the she. The androgynous mixture created a being so terribly beautiful, so horrifically stupefying that the participants couldn’t take it all in at once: as a person adjusts little by little to the dark and gradually starts to discern things. Gradually they discerned the She-he and when the He-she appeared before them in a brightness that emanated from him-her, they paralyzed by the Beautiful would say: “Ah, Ah.”

As Clarice becomes more read and taught in the short story world, people will begin to make comparisons of her work with other female short story writers.  I see resemblances in her early stories to the work of Katherine Mansfield, who she greatly admired.  That being said "Where Were You at Night" is a simply amazing work that has left me deeply puzzled and stunned after five days of reading the story.  I think I am beginning to understand that the opening segment of the story is a kind of composite dream or vision of the Rio night world infused with ancient religious cult beliefs from a period beyond our conscious memory.  The story is like a deep dive into our collective unconsciousness.  It does reek of the sensual power of Rio de Jeniro. 

I was tempted to include many more quotes but I did not.

I would love one day to feel I can say, "Yes, Clarice, I understand the extreme depths of this story, the pain, the dark wisdom, the loneliness" but I fear I never will.

Many will, I think, be near repulsed by the baffling power of this story, others will be sucked into depths few other short stories can take us.

As I read on in Clarice, my obsession grows.   

Mel u

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