From: Clarice Lispector
To: Tania Kaufmann

Bern, February 21, 1948

Tania, my dear little girl, my little doll,

I received your letter with the portraits of Márci – a little late because I was in Saint-Moritz. When I opened it and saw Marcinha, my heart was warmed with affection. Never have I seen a more beautiful child! Since I hadn’t seen the portraits in a long time, in the end I wondered if it were not due to love that I had thought she was the most beautiful and dearest girl in the world. But when I saw the portraits again, I had no doubt. I’ve been showing the portraits to everyone and everyone laughs with pleasure to see such a marvelous creature. And so smart. Because for a four-month-old the expression on her face is too clever. And at nine months she’s completely up on her feet and cracking up laughing. I’ve looked at the portraits I don’t know how many times. I’ll see if I can have a copy or two made, at least of the biggest one.

Darling, you can’t imagine how terrified I am that the child to be born will have the face of … Ms. Zuza. I avoid looking at her, afraid. I know it’s an ugly sentiment: but if the child is born looking like M[aury]’s family, I have the impression that my heartbreak is going to be enormous. I’m so impressed by this possibility that now it’ll probably actually happen. I can’t get enough of looking at Márcia’s adorable face. But I suppose it’s no use: I know well that there are no influences of this kind. But I really like to look. Sometimes I think about me arriving in Brazil with a baby with the face of Ms. Z., showing the child to you with such shame! I imagine you are laughing now and so am I… Remember the baby with the face of a chauffeur? That’s what I mean.

I’ve been going to the doctor once a month. He thought I was very well. He didn’t give me any diet. The nausea, which wasn’t much, has completely disappeared. Ah, my dear little girl, my little soul, there are moments when the homesickness hurts physically. How I wish to see you, kiss your dear little hands. You didn’t answer me about a girl’s name. It’s more difficult to choose a name for a girl. If my impression is that a boy is coming, I think I would prefer a girl.

Tania, please, please, my little girl, take good care of yourself, don’t get tired. If you only knew how much strength I send you in my thoughts. I imagine the agitated life that yours has been. But is it not possible to have a method? Is it not possible to find a way for things to go better? My dear, you never talk about yourself, you never really say anything about yourself. Talk to me, sweetheart, write to me about yourself, tell me what you think, what you do. I love you so much.

Yesterday Mariazinha asked me what I would do if I won a thousand contos. She said I started to look like a businesswoman, with a bit of a harsh face while distributing money… She let me give Marcia a house, another one for you, another one for Elisa, and you both come here, and a thousand other things. Only afterward did she laugh and say that the money certainly wouldn’t be enough. Speaking of houses: regarding what you were thinking of doing what point are you at? You didn’t specify. Write back. If you don’t respond to my questions, I’ll have to resume the system of enumerating, which is actually great.

As for the apartment for us, I don’t know how it will be. In Brazil, Maury earns five contos. He has a hundred contos in Brazil and nothing more. A big apartment can’t be bought because the hundred contos would serve, I reckon, only as a down payment. And in Brazil we’d be paying the rest monthly. Now, with five contos it’s not possible to spend a large amount monthly. I think the best would be any small apartment, that if you paid right away all or almost in full – as long as we didn’t have to rent an expensive one, with rental agency fees etc. – and later, if we wanted, or better, if we had the money, we could resell and buy a better one.

In any case I would not like it to be in Copacabana, because it’s hell to live there, there’s not a moment of peace, the street keeps calling, the people, the bars, too – it’s a beach life, great for a foreigner, millionaire or bum. Tell me about Elisa’s book, I don’t know anything, only that Pongetti will publish it. And the Senate position application, when is it? Is she in good health? She’s not nervous? She’s always getting into difficult and laborious things, but deep down she’s right. I just hope she enters the Senate, because of the salary and longer vacations. How much would she earn?

Tania, my sister, God bless you, and give you happiness and joy, wellness and tranquility, good health, good health, good health – and much happiness for Marcinha darling. Take care of yourself, rest, and be beautiful, take care of your grace, your beauty, and your elegance. Give William a big hug. Is he still handsome? And a big hug of love and longing for you.

Yours, Clarice

February 28– I thought I had sent you the letter, and it wasn’t true. Sorry for the delay. Ms. Zuza left today for Genoa with Maury. She will board tomorrow, it seems. She’s bringing you both some souvenirs. Don’t mind the irritated letters I wrote from Saint-Moritz. Of course, she is annoying, but I am much more. We had portraits taken, but, darling, I always come out with such a face that it’s not even worth sending. I’ve tried taking a thousand portraits to send you, and it’s not possible. I always come out horribly – and it’s not due to vanity that I don’t send them. It’s to not give the impression that I’m a ghost. When I take a portrait with Maury, I have to separate us with scissors, because at least in the portrait I look like his mother.