Belém, July 8, 1944
Your letter arrived with good timing. I really needed to hear your words. Twice already, I almost packed my bags and went to Rio. The day before receiving your letter I was preparing to travel, I had already made arrangements with the Brazilian Navigation Airline (NAB). In the afternoon on the day after I was weary and exhausted and probably wouldn’t go anymore, the letter came. But now I ask myself whether it wouldn’t be better to go to Rio and stay a while. You may well imagine it’s nothing serious. You’ll say this happens to everyone; but I’m made of such little things and my balance is so fragile that I need an excess of security to feel more or less secure. It was nothing except another declaration by M. like the one made a few days before we embarked that almost made me stay. As I began to make a scene, terribly upset, I again heard what I had always known – I’ve always been a little cynical –: that men are the way they are, that monogamy was possibly not the ideal state, that he naturally feels attraction toward women; that the feeling is one of fascination and shyness; he told me not to over-interpret, but it was a vague feeling of vanity that someone could like him; I asked: so you feel in society (we were coming back from being with people) like a young man going to party? He said yes. But that I’d always be the best of all of them and things of that sort. That he would certainly always control himself. In sum, you know that’s how it is. Naturally, until now nothing has happened. I know I’m really no good, I know I’m the worst; I never thought that anyone, a man, would be different; but how I feel bad, how I’m calcified, how everything that seemed familiar seems strange to me. I’m so sick of myself and others. The worst is that I feel like the most miserable woman in the world… I have no confidence in myself, any pretty face, exposed arm, graceful gait, is enough for me, so to speak, to come to my senses. I feel like a person who’ll drown if she doesn’t do something to rehabilitate herself. In order not to be so humiliated and stepped on I try to be interested in men and even that is tiring for me, it takes me away from my work which is the truest and most possible thing I have. The rest is wounded sensibility, dissatisfaction, absolute insecurity with regard to the future, incomprehension of the present, indecision with regard to my own feelings. I’m becoming cynical and shameless. What do I care if this happens to other women? What for some is the female condition, for others is the death of the feminine and of everything that is more delicate. I know that I myself am worthless. But I’ll tell you: I was not born to be submissive; and if this word exists, to submit others. I don’t know why I was born with the profound idea that I must be the only one or else. Maybe my way of loving is never to love anyone except people from whom I expect nothing and be loved. I know this is selfish and inhuman. But if I were to change myself I wouldn’t transform myself into a normal and common woman, but into something as apathetic and miserable as a beggar. You know me well, you’ve always tried to make me into a more balanced and sensible person, but you’ve failed. I like M. and could live well with him if in the end I learned of his liberties with cynicism, shamelessness and irony. I would really like to arrive at this stage of calcification. And then I’d try to take refuge in other ideas and other feelings and the rest would be fine. I don’t know what to do. It only occurs to me to go to Rio, spend a month or two there, give him the liberty not to control himself, to have a life that he didn’t have time to have because he got attached too early, and then go back with the wounds healed over and serene. He doesn’t dislike the idea, of giving some time apart; but he says nothing about having complete freedom while I’m away. And about my also having it, as long as I tell him later. Of course he’d prefer regarding this that I were at peace, working away. But he knows me well and because he does and is afraid of reprisals he controls himself. My God, I know it’s not his fault. But it’s not mine either. What do you really think about me going to spend some time in Rio? The feeling that he hasn’t done anything because I’m around is horrible and naturally I am spent. It would do me well to spend some time there, working on Night or not working, renting a room in a nice hotel, finishing my book – which will be dedicated to you if it’s published in a way that pleases me a little; please understand me. There are people who, broken in their pride, have nothing else. I have the impression that I would be so at peace in Rio. At the same time, he would answer to himself, would experience a life to which he feels attracted, who knows if falsely. I’m terribly difficult to live with. But it’s not my fault, believe it or not. I really control myself, but I’m so sensitive. I’m like Elisa. Talk to me, promise me you won’t censor me when I’m there, that you won’t mention the subject, and I’ll be at peace. Life is long, I’ll have a lot of time to live with him. But I think a long while away from him will give me balance and peace for me to reinvent myself and acquire a new outlook. To some I will say that I went to look after the 2nd edition of my poor book. A little bit of solitude will do me well. I can’t even keep a diary, because he always manages to read it, to even read my poor notes for a novel, hidden. Write to me, darling. I’m well in general. And don’t imagine me terrified or especially upset. But I think I need to go for a while.
And as for M., the main thing is that I get along well with him in every sense and that I like him. Everything will work out. I love you a lot, darling.
Hugs from your Clarice.
Answer me soon. It will do me much good if you say I should go. Maybe even without your saying so, I’ll go. I think it’s my solution.