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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Brasília" by Clarice Lispector (1974)

"—The construction of Brasília: that of a totalitarian State. —This great visual silence that I love. My insomnia too would have created this peace of the never. I too, like those two who are monks, would meditate in this desert. Where there’s no place for temptation. But I see in the distance vultures hovering. What could be dying, my God? —I didn’t cry once in Brasília. There was no place for it. —It is a beach without the sea. —In Brasília there is no way in, and no way out. —Mama, it’s lovely to see you standing there in that fluttering white cape. (It’s because I died, my son). —An open-air prison."

Included in The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson, introduced by Benjamin Moser 2015

"Brasília is the opposite of Bahia. Bahia is buttocks."

Understand this and you will, perhaps, have grasped the essence of this story reflecting Lispector's complex relationship with her adopted homeland and much of the legacy of colonialism, of Brazil trying to present a European face to the world

I have been reading Clarice Lispector for a year.  I started last April,when I received a review copy of The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson.   Her work has received a lot of attention in the literary press and book blog world since then. I highly recommend the reading of Benjamin Moser's biography of Lispector.  

"Brasilia" is one of her very last works.  ( My date of publication is a guess, please let me know exact date and first place of publication data.)   "Brasilia" needs to be read several times if one has any hope of understanding it.  Structurally it is the reflections of a writer who came to Brazil's capital city, Brasillia, to give a lecture.   Brasillia did not originate in the distant past of Brazil, it was a city created out of jungle to be the political capital.  "Brasillia", to me, is Lispector's rejection of the organized regulated modern city, a long for the chaos and savage beauty of Rio de Jeniro and Salvador. 

The story has so much depth one could drown.

"—Brasília has a splendored past that now no longer exists. This type of civilization disappeared millennia ago. In the 4th century BC it was inhabited by extremely tall blond men and women who were neither Americans nor Swedes and who sparkled in the sun."

Lispector loves and hates Brasilia.  

This is such a wonderful work, so full of passion, of the contradictions in the soul of Brazil.  

Mel u

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