Clarice in Paris

The traditional Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company placed on special display the English version of the book The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector. Translated by Katrina Dodson, who won the 2016 PEN Translation Prize for her efforts, the edition was one of the reading suggestions made by the store’s team of booksellers, which is specialized in English-language literature.      

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, in Paris.

The note that accompanied the book on display stressed that the collection of Clarice’s short stories in English was a great opportunity for a larger public to get to know the important Brazilian writer. They described her as possessing a poetic language and hypnotic rhythm, which “carried the reader in a fantastic way through the sublime universe of female characters, the human unconscious, and unrequited love.”  

The bookstore has a long history in the French capital. The first store opened in 1919, by the American Sylvia Beach, and became a meeting place for artists such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, Djuna Barnes, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot. In 1922, Shakespeare and Company published the masterpiece of modern literature Ulysses, by James Joyce, which at the time had been prohibited in the United Kingdom and the United States.    

It is worth recalling that it is from the epigraph of another book by the Irish writer, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (“He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.”), that Clarice, without knowing, and accepting a suggestion by her friend Lúcio Cardoso, borrowed the name for her first novel.

The store, which had been located at 12 rue de l’Odéon since its opening, was forced to close in June 1940 during the German occupation in Paris. After the war, another American, George Whitman, opened the bookstore Le mistral at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, which was modeled after Sylvia’s bookstore. After her death in 1964, George, who six years earlier had received authorization to use the original name, changed his sign to Shakespeare and Company.  

Under new direction, the place was frequented at different times by writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, and Anaïs Nin, hosted friends (since it had rooms for this purpose), and housed, between 1978 and 1981, the headquarters of the literary journal Paris Voices. According to the owner’s definitions, the establishment could be considered “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.”    

In a photo published on the bookstore’s Instagram page, on March 8, 2019, Clarice’s face appeared next to singer and actress Marianne Faithfull and others, printed on book covers held by store patrons during the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Book cover for The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector, at the celebration party for International Women’s Day promoted by the Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

The emphasis given to the Brazilian writer by a bookstore that specializes in the English language – and that was, as we have seen, the publishing house of an illustrious inventor such as Joyce –, not only reaffirmed the already confirmed quality of Katrina Dodson’s translation and Benjamin Moser’s efforts to promote the author in English-speaking countries, but also gives an idea of the increasing prestige that Clarice has reached outside of Brazil.

The Clarice Factor

The Moreira Salles Institute, in partnership with the Department of Humanities at Columbia University, presents the international seminar The Clarice Factor: Aesthetics, Gender, and Diaspora in Brazil, which will take place on the 23rd (Thursday), 24th (Friday), and 29th (Wednesday) of March, at Casa Hispánica, in New York City.

The inaugural milestone of the collaboration between IMS and Columbia University began in December 2015, at the Institute’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, with the colloquium Brazil: Global Crossing, which brought together Columbia University researchers, Brazilian professors and specialists, in addition to the coordinators of the IMS collection, in multidisciplinary discussions on the modernization process in Brazil.

Since then relations between the two institutions have strengthened with the announcement of the new event organized by Ana Paulina Lee and Graziela Montaldo, from the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Columbia University, and by the IMS Research Directorate. 

Completely dedicated to discussions on Clarice’s writing as performance, form, sound, and material, the tables will mostly occur on the 24th, with the participation of researcher-professors from several universities. IMS guests include Carlos Mendes de Sousa, Vilma Arêas (University of São Paulo-Campinas), and Yudith Rosenbaum (University of São Paulo). Also confirmed are Katrina Dodson, award-winning translator for the edition of The Complete Stories, and Argentinian Gabriel Giorgi, Associate Professor at New York University.

The event will also feature the installation Edge of Nothing by theater director Dara Malina, who in 2015 had adapted The Hour of the Star for the theater at the same university.

LispectorFest at the University of Tennessee

Every year the University of Tennessee prepares AuthorFest, a series of activities to celebrate the work of a single author. During the month of October 2016, in its second edition, AuthorFest paid tribute to Clarice Lispector.

Among the events offered to the public, in a collaboration between the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Knox County Public Library, there was a guided reading of The Mystery of the Thinking Rabbit, an exhibition of works of art by Professor Rubens Ghenov inspired by the novel The Passion According to G.H., and a session of the film The Hour of the Star, which was directed by Suzana Amaral, followed by a discussion mediated by Euridice Silva-Filho, research professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

One of the most anticipated activities of LispectorFest was the lecture by Katrina Dodson, translator of the Complete Stories (New Directions, 2016)In Rediscovering Clarice” Katrina comments, from her own experience, on the influence of the recent translation in the construction of a kind of “Lispectormania.”

The IMS, in partnership with UT Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences, has made this lecture available in full.