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Clarice Lispector

Clarice Lispector (December 10, 1920 – December 9, 1977) was a Brazilian novelist and short story writer. Her innovation in fiction brought her international renown. She was born in the Ukraine in 1920, but in the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Civil War, the family fled to Romania and eventually Brazil.

RIP Gregory Rabassa, translator of many Brazilian books

Gregory Rabassa passed away yesterday (June 13) at a hospice in Branford, Connecticut. He was 94. Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and translator of many of the greatest Latin American authors, Rabassa translated into English Machado de Assis, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Osman Lins, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Amado.

See an interview with Gregory Rabassa conducted by Elizabeth Lowe in 2007 at the annual conference American Literary Translators Association about his translation process – and the impossibility of translation. And below, Gregory Rabassa reads his 1992 Poem ‘This Dream’ on his 92nd birthday party at the Russian Samovar on 52nd St. in NYC.

He was also the author of If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents

IMG_20160528_123811

I found a copy of Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. at Review, a wonderful independent bookshop in Peckham. They also stocks Raduan Nassar and Lya Luft, but had run out of them – which made me delighted rather than disappointed – and now of Clarice too, as I bought the last copy on display.


Review,
131 Bellenden Rd,
Peckham, SE15 4QY
Wed: 10:00 – 18:00
Thurs: 12:00 – 19:00
Fri-Sat: 10:00 – 18:00
Sun: 11:00 – 17:00

Idra Novey: Ways to Disappear

David Raimon, host of the literary radio show Between The Covers, talks to Ways to Disappear’s author Idra Novey, a writer, poet and translator of Spanish and Portuguese literature. From Brazil, she has translated Manoel de Barros, Paulo Henriques Britto and Clarice Lispector (novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H). The last two authors are mentioned by Idra, whose motivation to learn Portuguese was reading Clarice’s original writings. They talk about translation (localisation, foreignisation, domestication), the role of women in translation and literature, Latin American authors, political disappearances, her life in Brazil and, of course, visibility, invisibility and ways to disappear.

A piece of language curiosity: they talk about the difficulties in conveying the meaning of the Portuguese world “embora” into English. Idra says “the book initially began with my fascination as a translator with the Portuguese phrase “vou embora.” It basically means “I’m out of here” and you can say it without adding any information about where you’re going or when you’ll be back. We don’t have a daily phrase in English that’s as vague and accepted as going “embora” in Brazil. Beatriz, the writer who disappears into a tree in the novel goes completely, arboreally “embora.”

On its own, “embora” can be a conjunction (translated as “although”, “while”, “though”, “however”, “albeit”, “yet”, “nevertheless”), an adverb (“even though”, “away”), and it can also means “congratulations”, as a contraction of “em boa hora” (a very old fashionable usage though). In the context of their talk, it needs the verb “ir”, which means “to go”, so we have “ir embora” which can be conveyed as “go away”, “walk away”, “break up”. Here in UK, I think people say “I’m off”. Yep, none of them quite as vague, complete and emotional as it sounds in Portuguese.

Listening time: 50 minutes.

Ways to Disappear is a novel about the disappearance of Beatriz Pagoda, a famous Brazilian novelist and cult-classic Brazilian writer (inspired on Clarice Lispector!) who was last seen climbing into an almond tree, puffing on a cigar and holding a suitcase, and her American translator Emma, who flies immediately to Brazil to join Beatriz’s two grown children in solving the mystery of the author’s disappearance. The novel is set in Rio de Janeiro.

Check Idra Novey’s website.

 

Clarice Lispector: On death and strawberries

“And now – now all I can do is light a cigarette and go home.
My God, I only remembered that we die. But – but me too?!
Don’t forget that for now it is strawberries season.
Yes.”

The Hour of the Star, in Benjamin Moser’s translation

Photo by Jiahui Huang on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo by Jiahui Huang on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Best Translated Book Award goes to Brazil and Mexico

A collection of Portuguese-language poetry from Brazil and a Spanish-language novel from Mexico have won prizes for the Best Translated Book Award, the BTBA.

From Brazil, Angélica Freitas’s “Rilke Shake,” translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan, won the Best Translated Book Award for poetry. According to BTBA judge Tess Lewis,  “[Kaplan] has done the grant and Freitas’ poems justice, capturing the many shifts in tone in and between the lines, from playful to wry to sardonic to pathetic, even sentimental, to deadpan and back to playful, sometimes within a single poem. For all of Freitas’ lyric clowning, it’s clear she takes poetry too seriously not to dismantle it and use it to her own purposes.”

The fiction prize has been given to Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World,” translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. It beat the Brazilian bestselling Clarice Lispector (Complete Stories), which had been shortlisted.

Rilke Shake_Angelica Freitas

Family Ties

Original title: Laços de Família (1960)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero

Since the publication of her first novel in 1944, Clarice Lispector has been recognized as a Brazilian writer of great talent and originality. It is generally agreed among her critics, however that her best writing is in shorter fiction, where her personal style, with its brilliant flashes of insight, works more coherently. The stories in Family Ties, originally published in 1960, are among her most important contribution to Brazilian fiction, They show her preoccupation with human suffering and failure, and critics have detected in them, as in all of her work, echoes of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and the French existentialist writers Camus and Sartre. But if her stories are concerned with the metaphysical anguish that results from the sudden recognition of the human condition, which Camus called Absurdity, the reader will find that anguish treated in an original way that reveals the complexity of the experience. The characters created by Clarice Lispector cannot be described as ‘types’, even in a psychological context. They are more appropriately seen as images of different states of mind, and this applies also to her settings, the gardens and parks in ‘Love’ and ‘The Buffalo’, the urban scenes in ‘Preciousness’ and ‘The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman’, and the jungle setting of ‘The smallest Woman in the World’; all exist outside of time and space. Lispector is a writer who is not interested primarily in the individuals and their individual contexts but in the passions that dominate and usually defeat them. Like Sartre and Camus, she subscribes to the acts that acts alone are important – and isolation and violence become the two salient features of human experience. (Source: publisher)


Family Ties_2_Clarice Lispector

Hardcover: 156 pages
Publisher: Univ of Texas Press (1972)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0292724047 
ISBN-13: 978-0292724044
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Family Ties_1_Clarice Lispector

Series: Texas Pan American Series
Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (January 1, 1984)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0292724489
ISBN-13: 978-0292724488
Click here to buy this book

Family Ties_4_Clarice Lispector
(Please note: I am not sure this is the right cover for this edition!)

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1985
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN 10: 0856355704 
ISBN 13: 9780856355707
Click here to buy this book

Family Ties_4_Clarice Lispector

Hardcover: 140 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press (January 1, 1985)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
SBN 10: 0856355690 
ISBN 13: 9780856355691 
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Soulstorm

Original titles: A Via Crucis do Corpo (1974) and Onde estivestes de noite (1974)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Alexis Levitin

Soulstorm‘ contains twenty-nine stories from two short story collections, originally published in two separate volumes: A Via Crucis do Corpo and Onde estivestes de noite. Lispector’s characters live small stifled lives, often unware of their own suffering, but her lucid and richly textured narratives allow us, the readers, the epiphanies that they themselves are denied. Alexis Levitan’s translations of Clarice Lispector’s stories won the 1984 Van de Bovencamp-Armand G. Erpf International Award, given by the Translation Center, Columbia University.


Soulstorm_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: New Directions (13 Sept. 1989)
Translator: Alexis Levitin
ISBN-10: 081121091X
ISBN-13: 978-0811210911
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The Passion According to G.H.

Original title: A paixão segundo G.H. (1964)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translators: Various, see different editions below

The Passion According to G.H. is a novel that somehow feels like a series of short stories, for each chapter starts with a sentence that gives it a theme. The overall theme is the same as in the compilations The Foreign Legion and Family Ties; getting to the bottom of the drawer, coming to an understanding of oneself and the essence of life, embodied, essentially and symbolically, in the notions of love, honesty, truth. In The Passion According to G.H. a woman is questioned existentially about her life but the questions find no answers. It speaks of the self-discovery of a human being, in this case the almost anonymous G.H., as she questions, criticises and wonders. It examines the processes G.H. goes through to arrive at a greater understanding of what her life is about, of what life is about. (This is an excerpt of a review by Marina Coriolano-Lykourezos, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)


The Passion According to GH_2_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (15 Sept. 1988)
Translator: Ronald W Sousa
ISBN-10: 0816617120
ISBN-13: 978-0816617128
Click here to buy this book

 Paperback: 220 pages
 Publisher: New Directions, 2012
 Translator: Idra Novey
 Edited by Benjamin Moser
 ISBN 10: 0811219682
 ISBN 13: 9780811219686
 Click here to buy this book

Passion According to GH_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (6 Feb. 2014)
Translator: Idra Novey
ISBN-10: 0141197358
ISBN-13: 978-0141197357
Click here to buy this book

Complete Stories

Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Katrina Dodson
With a contribution by Benjamin Moser

For the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers, to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies, to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Clarice’s stories take us through their lives—and ours. From one of the greatest modern writers, these eighty-six stories, gathered from the nine collections published during Clarice Lispector’s lifetime, follow her from her teens to her deathbed. (Source: publisher)

Note on the translation: Katrina Dodson’s translation won the 2016 PEN Translation Prize and has been shortlisted 10 fiction finalists for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. Read an interview with her: The Joys and Challenges of Translating One of Brazil’s Most Brilliant and Beguiling Fiction Writers


The Complete Stories_Clarice Lispector

 Paperback: 640 pages
 Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation (April 2015)
 Translator: Katrina Dodson
 ISBN 10: 0811219631
 ISBN-13: 9780811219631
 Click here to buy this book

The Complete Stories_2_Clarice Lispector

 Paperback: 672 pages
 Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 Aug. 2015)
 Translator: Katrina Dodson
 ISBN-10: 0141197382
 ISBN-13: 978-0141197388
 Click here to buy this book

Selected Crônicas

Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero

A vertiginous dash through the mind of a highly idiosyncratic and inventive writer. Lispector, the Brazilian novelist (The Hour of the Star, 1990, etc.), was from 1967 to 1973 also a columnist for the Jornal do Brasil, the largest newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. This collection of 156 of her columns (crônicas) makes the work of her American counterparts, from that of Anna Quindlen to Jimmy Breslin, seem predictable, narrowly focused, and pedestrian. If a newspaper column can be compared with a social visit from the writer, who drops by often enough to become a friend, then Lispector can be said to be an enchanting, unnerving, and sometimes giddy visitor. She casts a wide net in these pieces. There are some deeply cryptic gleanings. (“I dreamed that a fish was taking its clothes off and remained naked” is the entire text of one piece.) There are also several series of full-fledged stories, including “The Princess,” told in five parts, and “The Egg and the Chicken,”‘ told in three. Other columns resemble conventional feature writing. “Lightning Interview with Pablo Neruda (II),” for example, poses questions to the poet and duly provokes answers. “Does writing make the anguish of living more bearable?” Lispector asks. She further asks to the poet to “say something to surprise me.” Most of the time, the need to surprise herself seems to guide the columns, and the result is a body of work likely to give pause to North Americans, who seem to prefer their journalism straightforward and flat-footed. Lispector’s is headily expansive, a reprieve from the usual. Of course, the pressure to write for each Saturday edition does lead to various ups and downs; the downs include facile moments when even Lispector’s imagination temporarily folds its tent. But the stumbling is rare. A provocative revision of journalistic possibilities. – Kirkus Review


Selected Cronicas_Clarice Lispector

 Paperback: 296 pages
 Publisher: New Directions (9 Jan. 1997)
 Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
 ISBN-10: 0811213404
 ISBN-13: 978-0811213400
 Click here to buy this book

The Apple in the Dark

Original title: A maçã no escuro (1961)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Gregory Rabassa

A man wanders through the deserted backlands in search of a new beginning. He wants to escape from the city, forget the past, start his life from scratch, even to the extent of learning how to see, speak and write anew, because modern society has driven him to the brink of madness and he has committed a crime. The man, Martim, reaches an isolated farm where he is begrudgingly employed by the owner, the frosty, authoritarian Vitória, and where he becomes a source of fascination for her young widowed sister-in-law Ermelinda. A complicated emotional triangle forms between these three as Martim empathises intellectually with Vítoria but desires Ermelinda physically. Each of the characters is restless and dissatisfied with their sense of identity: Martim is plagued by existential anguish, Ermelinda longs for self-validation and security, and Vitória struggles to disguise her fear that she has wasted her life and her femininity by devoting herself to the farm. (This is an excerpt of a review by Claire Williams, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)


Apple in The Dark_Clarice Lispector

Hardcover: 384 pages
Published by Virago New Fiction, 1985
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
ISBN 10: 0860685500 
ISBN 13: 9780860685500
Click here to buy this book

The Apple In The Dark_2_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 361 pages
 Publisher: University of Texas Press (31 Dec. 1986)
 Translator: Gregory Rabassa
 ISBN-10: 0292703929
 ISBN-13: 978-0292703926
 Click here to buy this book

The Apple In The Dark_Clarice Lispector

 Hardcover: 445 pages
 Publisher: Haus Publishing (1 Oct. 2009)
 Translator: Gregory Rabassa
 Introduction by Benjamin Moser
 ISBN-10: 1906598452
 ISBN-13: 978-1906598457
 Click here to buy this book

The Foreign Legion

Original title: A Legião Estrangeira (1964)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero

The Foreign Legion is a collection in two parts, gathering both stories and chronicles, and it offers wonderful evidence of Clarice Lispector’s unique sensibility and range as an exponent of experimental prose. It opens with thirteen stories and the second part of the book presents her newspaper cronicas, which Lispector said she retrieved from a bottom drawer. (Source: publisher)


Foreign Legion_Clarice Lispector

 Hardcover: 224 pages
 Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd (1 Jan. 1986)
 Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
 ISBN-10: 0856356271
 ISBN-13: 978-0856356278
 Click here to buy this book

Foreign Legion_2_Clarice Lispector

 Paperback: 220 pages
 Publisher: New Directions; Reissue edition (28 Feb. 1992)
 Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
 ISBN-10: 0811211894
 ISBN-13: 978-0811211895
 Click here to buy this book

The Hour of the Star

Original title: A hora da Estrela (1977)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translators: Various, see different editions below

Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola and her philandering rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly and unloved. Yet telling her story is the narrator Rodrigo S.M., who tries to direct Macabéa’s fate but comes to realize that, for all her outward misery, she is inwardly free. Slyly subverting ideas of poverty, identity, love and the art of writing itself, Clarice Lispector’s audacious last novel is a haunting portrayal of innocence in a bad world. (Source: publisher)


The Hour of the Star_4_Clarice Lispector

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Carcanet (May 1986)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0856356263
ISBN-13: 978-0856356261
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The Hour of the Star_5_Clarice Lispector

Series: New Directions Paperbook (Book 733)
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: New Directions; Reissue edition (February 17, 1992)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0811211908
ISBN-13: 978-0811211901
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The Hour of the Star_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd; New edition edition (14 Feb. 1992)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0856359890
ISBN-13: 978-0856359897
Click here to buy this book

The Hour of the Star_3_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: New Directions; 2nd Revised edition edition (19 Oct. 2012)
Translator: Benjamin Moser
Introduction by Colm Tóibín 
ISBN-10: 0811219496
ISBN-13: 978-0811219495
Click here to buy this book

The Hour of the Star_2_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (6 Feb. 2014)
Translator: Benjamin Moser
ISBN-10: 0141392037
ISBN-13: 978-0141392035
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Agua Viva / The Stream of Life

Original title: Água Viva (1973)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translators: Various, see different editions below

This liquid narrative (the title very literally means “living water”) is difficult to define in terms of genre, style or theme; as it says, “categories pin me down no longer.” It is like a series of pulsations, the narrator’s attempts to capture the “now-instant”, “it” or “X” of a fleeting moment or sudden sensation before it slips through one’s net. It does have a narrator, a painter, who describes the artistic creative process by comparing literature to painting and also to music — linking her writing to improvisational jazz. Whilst describing her movements, her insomnia, the cups of coffee she drinks and cigarettes she smokes, she enumerates her seemingly random thoughts, giving the text a sense of immediacy, as if it is being written as we read it.  (This is an excerpt of a review by Claire Williams, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)


The Stream of Life_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (June 1989)
Translators: Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz
ISBN-10: 0816617821
ISBN-13: 978-0816617821
Click here to buy this book

Agua Viva_ClariceLispector

Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: New Directions (19 Jun. 2012)
Translator: Stefan Tobler
Edited and with an introduction by Benjamin Moser 
ISBN-10: 9780811219907 
ISBN-13: 978-0811219907 
Click here to buy this book

Agua Viva_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (6 Feb. 2014)
Translator: Stefan Tobler 
Edited and with an introduction by Benjamin Moser 
ISBN-10: 0141197366
ISBN-13: 978-0141197364
Click here to buy this book

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