The hour of the star: notes

Inspirations or notes?

In 2004, the manuscripts for Clarice Lispector’s novel The Hour of the Star arrived at the Moreira Salles Institute (IMS), important documents not only for their rarity, but also for documenting Clarice’s writing process. From the earliest works, the writer had adopted the method of immediate annotation. Thus, according to Nádia Battella Gotlib, her biographer, “she starts carrying a notebook, where she takes notes. It is from this large quantity of loose notes referring to the same subject that her novel will be constituted (…).”

Over time, notes are made on any type of paper easily at hand, and even by someone else whom Clarice asked for help when unable to write. Olga Borelli says that sometimes during a film session she wrote down an idea or phrase for the writer. She also says that Clarice, in the midst of domestic chores, would suddenly ask the maid to take notes for her. Thus, we see notes from The Hour of the Star on paper fragments, check sheets and envelopes. In addition to this diversity of supports, we also observe Olga’s handwriting in the majority of documents reproduced here, as she was the one who helped Clarice organize and type the manuscripts of The Hour of the Star.

In interviews, Clarice explained how her writing process took place in basically two stages:

When I’m writing something, I take notes anytime day or night, things that come to me. That’s called inspiration, right? Now, when I’m in the act of concatenating the inspirations, then I’m forced to work daily.

In the initial phase of writing, therefore, Clarice would write down “inspirations”, that is, ideas and phrases that came ready to her. When she reached a satisfactory volume of material, the writer would embark on the second stage of creation – she would concatenate the “inspirations”. If the first phase could take months or years, the next moment was uninterrupted work. In this manner the manuscripts of The Hour of the Star archived at IMS reflect Clarice’s stages of creation to the extent that these documents present both Clarice’s “inspirations” and more developed texts, products of that concatenation.

What we present in this catalogue are the “inspirations” harvested by Clarice for The Hour of the Star, which in the organization of the writer’s collection were given the technical term of notes. The pages of the catalogue, produced especially for this site, show reproductions of these notes containing information such as observations about differences of handwriting in the note and identification of notes taken by Olga Borelli.

Fabio Frohwein