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, December 9, 2015

"Via Crucis" by Clarice Lispector 1974 (The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lispector August, 2015, translated by Katrina Dodson, edited and introduced by Benjamin Moser)


Clarice wrote all of the thirteen short stories in the 1974 collection, The Via Crucis of the Body over the course of a single weekend. (My source for this and most all I know of the life and literary career of Clarice comes from the essential biography by Bernard Moser, Why this World:  A Biography of Clarice Lispector).  By this time she was more than thirty years into her literary career and did not care what the critics said of her work.   Some contemporary Brazilian critics called these stories "near pornogrsphy".  In one of them two women freely share the bed of one man then murder him and cut up his body to use to mulch their roses.  In a terrifying story I have posted upon, "Pig Latin" a woman avoids being raped on a Rio commuter train by acting as if she were a mentally deranged prostitute.  She knew the men wanted a virgin,  which she in fact was, thinking rightfully that would make them look for another woman The train conductor turned her into the police who kept her in jail for several days.  She learns a woman was raped and murdered on the train.

In "Via Crucis" a woman is told by her doctor she is three months pregnant. The married woman says her husband has never touched her.  The doctor suggests perhaps in her sleep he has. She says no he is impotent.  When she tells her husband this he says then he must be Sainf Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary.  She begins to somehow be.ieve she will give birth to a son of God.  Her husband begins to grow his hair and beard very long just as Sainf Joseph did.  As she becomes huge with child, she seeks out and finds a manger in which to give birth. She wonders what three wise men will come bringing gifts, what star from the east will guide them.  She wonders if her son, she sine how knows the baby is a boy, will walk the way of the cross.  The story title refers to a section of the road to Golgatha. 

The profound beauty of this story for me is in the complete acceptance of the virgin birth.  The love of the husband, his acceptance.  If they are mad, then are all Christians.  Maybe she is deluded or deceiving her husband and herself but if so it is not hinted at. In an interesting segment we learn why she decides not to name her son "Jesus".  In a way Clarice is turning Rio into a kind of strange holy land.

Mel u

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