“Love Smells Like Death”

, "Love Smells Like Death". IMS Clarice Lispector, 2019. Disponível em: https://site.claricelispector.ims.com.br/en/2019/07/23/o-amor-tem-cheiro-de-morte/. Acesso em: 28 May 2024.


Clarice Lispector wrote about sex only once. It was in the book A via crúcis do corpo (The Via Crucis of the Body). Even so, as her biographer Benjamin Moser observes, “the theme that unites the collection is not, in fact, sex. It is motherhood.” Indeed, based on this comment, it is possible to think that the writer undoes the boundary line that separates maternal love and sexual desire by uniting the two instincts into a conjunction, such as in the female organ common to birth and to copulation.  

Moser also says that some of the writer’s friends considered her “touchingly naive” in matters of sex. Her friend and plastic artist Maria Bonomi, who at the time had separated from her husband to date a woman, was supposedly interrogated with “technical questions” by a curious Clarice. Such an interest was also imprinted in the article “O vício impune da literatura” (The unpunished vice of literature), published in the Folha de S.Paulo, in 1992, in which one reads about a supposed “exchange of imported pornographic magazines” between her and the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade. 

In any case, it is Clarice herself who is evasive, in the preface to A via crúcis do corpo: “if there’s indecency in the stories, it’s not my fault. Needless to say it didn’t happen to me.” In 1975, in an interview given to the Manchete magazine on the occasion of the book’s release, she reiterates: “Even I was surprised […] how I knew so many things about the topic.” 

If it is true that there is almost no sex in Clarice’s work, it is also a fact that her literature is impregnated with eroticism; an eroticism that touches the limits of matter. The best example of this is the mystical experience that the main character of The Passion According to G.H. undergoes when she eats the white mass of the dead cockroach that she had just crushed against the closet door, in the maid’s microcosmic room. 

The incident with G.H. can be understood in light of what the French thinker George Bataille, in his book Eroticism, classifies as “sacred eroticism,” which is connected to the concrete world, to its objects, and is therefore distinguished from the eroticism of bodies or of hearts – an experience that is thus independent both of sexual and personal relations.

For him, the depersonalization of the erotic fusion can be considered similar to that experienced in sacrificial rituals. In the face of the immolation of the victim – in the case of G.H., the cockroach –, what is revealed to the senses of the participants, who often eat it, is the experience of the sacred. As Bataille affirms: “a violent death disrupts the creature’s discontinuity; what remains, what the tense onlookers experience in the ensuing silence, is the continuity of all existence with which the victim is now one.”

Continuity and discontinuity are terms that must be understood as the reintegration of a mortal and singular being, who is therefore discontinuous, to the general fermentation of life, which is indistinct and impersonal. As in Lavoisier’s maxim, “nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed,” the body serves as food for bacteria, which participates in the decaying process of human flesh and sets in motion the incessant cycle of life and death.   

The immediate horror experienced with the putrefaction of the corpse reveals to men and women the unavoidable affinity between the “stinking putrefaction” of death and the essence of life itself. Thus, if on the one hand “the horror of death drives us off, for we prefer life; on the other an element at once solemn and terrifying fascinates us and disturbs us profoundly.”    

A disturbance of such an order, Bataille continues, is triggered by the direct contact with that which is commonly called nausea or repugnance. The term he uses, “sovereign disturbance,” perfectly fits that which critics and Clarice herself call “existential moment,” “surprise,” “flash,” “epiphany,” etc., in her work. The overcoming of disgust seen in sacrifice is the same that, in the face of an unexpected event, will cause the disorder that comes from reality-based erotic experience to burst in Clarice’s characters. It is an experience that, since it is not part of our will, always “waits upon chance,” according to the French thinker.        

But if for the writer, as we have seen, sex is not a priority, what is it that is revealed, then, in the blatant eroticism of her texts? In The Passion According to G.H., she herself answers: “Ah, people put the idea of sin in sex. But how innocent and childish that sin is. The real hell is that of love. Love is the experience of a danger of greater sin — it is the experience of the mud and the degradation and the worst joy.”


In the short story “Love,” from the book Family Ties, Clarice Lispector narrates the story of Ana, a housewife who is on the tram, tired, returning from the market to her house, and carelessly thinking about everyday life at home: the broken stove, her children, her husband – to everything, Ana gave “her small, strong hand, her stream of life,” one reads.  

The narrator warns the reader: “A certain hour of the afternoon was more dangerous. […] when the house was empty and needed nothing more from her, the sun high, the family members scattered to their duties.” At this moment, Ana became restless. Before having a family, her life was “restless exaltation,” it was no longer within reach, for she “had created at last something comprehensible, an adult life” — in order.  

Absorbed in her thoughts, Ana is disoriented, all of a sudden, by the sight of a blind man chewing gum: “[…] her heart beat violently, at intervals. Leaning forward, she stared intently at the blind man, the way we stare at things that don’t see us. He was chewing gum in the dark. Without suffering, eyes open. The chewing motion made it look like he was smiling and then suddenly not smiling, smiling and not smiling — as if he had insulted her.”

It is worth observing the original way that Clarice stages some clichés, restoring to them the original meaning of the words. The trivial description of the blind man – eyes open in the dark, which is equivalent to the commonplace “seeing in darkness” – is metaphorically figured as a sort of existential longing on the part of the character: the calm understanding of life in full ebullition, in its intrinsic disorder. The chewing that seemed to make him oscillate between laughter and seriousness evokes, in the same way, the reconciliation “without suffering” between opposites, in a unity that is primordial and “inexpressive,” as G.H. says.      

Suddenly, the tram brakes and the bags that were on Ana’s lap fall on the ground. She yells. The driver stops. She collects what was scattered on the ground. But the eggs had broken: “viscous, yellow yolks dripped through the mesh” of the knit bag. Here, we witness the representation of yet another catch phrase: “the life that slips through your fingers.” The yoke, the egg of a chicken, if fertilized by the male, gives life; if not, it is life that could have been and was not. Thus, once the spoil of life – her own? – has been discarded, all the fragile harmony of Ana’s everyday life also slips away.       

She then perceives an absence of law; she no longer knows where to go – “She had pacified life so well, taken such care for it not to explode. […] And a blind man chewing gum was shattering it all to pieces.” Without realizing it, she missed the stop for her house and, in a rage, gets off the tram. It was getting dark. Little by little, she recognizes the place where she is and walks through the Botanical Garden. Equivalences arise with the Garden of Eden, which, on the one hand shifts the Judeo-Christian mythical paradise to the real park in the city of Rio de Janeiro, but, on the other, describes it in new terms. Contrary to the nice and lovely atmosphere in Genesis, in “Love,” horror and degradation are established:       

 There was a secret labor underway in the Garden that she was starting to perceive. In the trees the fruits were black, sweet like honey. On the ground were dried pits full of circumvolutions, like little rotting brains. The bench was stained with purple juices. With intense gentleness the waters murmured. Clinging to a tree trunk were the luxuriant limbs of a spider. […] it was a world to sink one’s teeth into […]. it was fascinating, the woman was nauseated, and it was fascinating.


Bataille, in another text, the essay “The Language of Flowers,” published in the magazine Documents in 1929, criticizes the image of the flower as a symbol of the discovery of love. The frequent association would be explained, according to him, by the fact that both the brilliance of flowers and human feelings are “a question of phenomena that precede fertilization.” Nevertheless, for men and women, what becomes a sign of desire, in the flower, is the corolla, its most decorative aspect, and not the sexual organ, a “rather sordid tuft,” covered by the petals. The flower’s appearance is equivalent, therefore, to an ideal of human beauty and, for this reason, says nothing about its real nature – flowers “wither like old and overly made-up dowagers, and they die ridiculously on stems that seemed to carry them to the clouds,” affirms the thinker, for whom “love smells like death.”      

To destroy the impression of harmony in the nature of plants, Bataille continues, it is enough to imagine “the impossible and fantastic vision of roots swarming under the surface of the soil, nauseating and naked like vermin.” To roots, in contrast to stems, could then be attributed the lowest moral value. The similarities between Clarice’s text and Bataille’s arguments are evident (and somewhat unprecedented). She writes: “The erotic impulse of entrails is linked to the eroticism of the twisted roots of trees. It is the rooted force of desire. My truculence. Monstrous viscera and hot lava of burning mud.” [1] The theme reappears in The Passion According to G.H.: “the unclean is the root — for there are created things that never decorated themselves.”

In “Love,” Ana’s experience is therefore the experience of interdiction. The narrator alerts the reader: “The moral of the Garden was something else.” Unlike the biblical garden, where God already dictated orders to the first couple, in Ana’s garden (or Clarice’s), it is the character herself who encounters, without prescription, and with a mix of attraction and repulsion, the erotic depersonalization that reconciles good and evil in an indistinct and amoral totality. In the words of Spinoza, of whom Clarice was an enthusiastic reader, Ana allows herself to be “affected” by the things of the world and learns an ethical lesson that has the body as a seat and real experience as a base. In a manner very close to the Dutch philosopher, Clarice reflects, in The Passion According to G.H., upon morality:      

 Would it be simplistic to think the moral problem with regard to others consists in behaving as one ought to, and the moral problem with regards to oneself is managing to feel what one ought to? Am I moral to the extent that I do what I should, and feel as I should? All of a sudden the moral question seemed to me not only overwhelming, but extremely petty. The moral problem, in order for us to adjust to it, should be at once less demanding and greater. Since as an ideal it is both small and unattainable. Small, if one attains it: unattainable, because it cannot even be attained. […] The solution had to be secret. The ethics of the moral is keeping it secret. Freedom is a secret.

The Secret (or The Ethics)

Ana was breathing in the putrid perfume of the decomposing plants – until she remembers her children. She immediately feels guilty. But why? “What was she ashamed of?” When she left the garden, she was no longer the same. Now, “her heart had filled with the worst desire to live.” And this was incompatible with her previous routine. Still in a trance, she arrives home, receives guests for dinner; the children play in the living room. Everything seemed normal, but she was absent and delirious, and she involuntarily frightens one of her children:     

Mama, the boy called. She held him away from her, looked at that face, her heart cringed. Don’t let Mama forget you, she told him. As soon as the child felt her embrace loosen, he broke free and fled to the bedroom door, looking at her from greater safety. It was the worst look she had ever received. The blood rushed to her face, warming it.

Ana’s senses were saturated and the atmosphere of the house was like an overwhelming shadow. She hears an explosion on the stove. “What happened?!”, she asks her husband, startled. He becomes surprised by his wife’s fear; “‘It was nothing,’ he said, I’m just clumsy.’” He brings her close to him and caresses her. Ana transfers to her husband all the love of one who had come face to face with death and tells him in a serious tone: “I don’t want anything to happen to you, ever!” He finds what she said funny; “Time for bed,” he says. He then leads his wife to bed, “removing her from the danger of living”;  back to the night that follows the day that follows the night – practical life, which, although miserable, nevertheless bears the existence of who knows love.        

[1] The passage, written by hand on the backside of the typescript for “Objeto gritante” (“Screaming Object,” the text that gave rise to the book Água Viva), is quoted by the Angolan critic Carlos Mendes de Sousa, in Clarice Lispector: pinturas (Clarice Lispector: Paintings).


Clarice Lispector in the lineage of Machado de Assis

, Clarice Lispector in the lineage of Machado de Assis. IMS Clarice Lispector, 2017. Disponível em: https://site.claricelispector.ims.com.br/en/2017/08/14/clarice-lispector-da-linhagem-de-machado-de-assis/. Acesso em: 28 May 2024.

When it comes to the topic of Brazilian crônicas (which are often more like short stories than chronicles), one instantly thinks of the name of Rubem Braga as a primary representative. “The greatest chronicler,” according to Clarice Lispector. 

The writer from Espírito Santo, who modestly considered himself a typewriter that is “a little used, but still in good condition,” had a new collection recently published with texts gathered in book form for the first time. In O poeta e outras crônicas de literatura e vida (The poet and other chronicles of literature and life), edited by Gustavo Henrique Tuna, the old Braga, who used to write every day, uniquely registers certain profiles of intellectuals who were already well-known at the time: Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Joel Silveira, Rodrigo de Melo Franco, Aníbal Machado, and of course, Clarice Lispector.  

On December 11, 1965 in Manchete, the second most important weekly news magazine during its heyday, Rubem Braga dedicated his column to Clarice Lispector. In that year, Clarice published the third edition of Family Ties, a collection of short stories released by Editora Francisco Alves in 1960 for which the author would receive the Jabuti Prize for literature. His diagnosis of the Ukrainian-born writer from Pernambuco was as simple as it was daring. According to Braga, Clarice would come from the same lineage as Machado de Assis.    

Up next, one of the 25 chronicles that make up the volume of chronicles by Rubem Braga.

Clarice Lispector, a Carioca Storyteller 

This brief information from Petit Larousse about Virginia Woolf is very French: “Romancière anglaisenée à Londres (1882-1941); sa finesse rappelle la manière du romancier français Marcel Proust.[1]

It would be possible to say that Clarice Lispector’s finesse recalls that of Virginia Woolf – which actually seems to be her strongest influence. But what most surprises and captivates me in Clarice’s short stories, such as those in this admirable volume Family Ties, which is now in its 3rd edition, is the strong Carioca flavor in this writer who has lived so many years abroad. As introspective as the writer may be, she not only is alert to the turmoil and confusion of the soul, but is also especially sensitive to the lights, the sounds, the winds, and the temperature, to details of the landscape and the environment.  

Her characters are not only from Rio de Janeiro, they are from certain streets, certain neighborhoods, and bear this trademark: at the Copacabana meal “the daughter-in-law from Olaria showed up in navy blue, glittering with “pailletés” and draping that camouflaged her ungirdled belly;” and she remains the whole time as if she were blocked off in her spiritual refuge of Olaria, staring challengingly at her husband’s sister-in-law from Ipanema.  

The lazy and raunchy Portuguese girl could only live on Riachuelo street and dine with white wine at the Tiradentes plaza. The lady of “The Imitation of the Rose,” this girl who was “was a brunette as she obscurely believed a wife ought to be,” is basically a Girl from Tijuca. And Rio lives in this book, with is botanical garden and its zoological garden, its old streetcars, its heat, its quiet nights, its suburban flower gardens, its flies, its Saturdays and families.     

What I’m saying is only marginalia for Clarice’s book, which is most interesting because of the intense internal vibration of its beings, and its mastery of style and composition, which none in Brazil can surpass. But for all of us who live in Rio, and who for the first time have vaguely become Carioca patriots after the capital moved to Brasília, it is sweet to feel the city gasp and shake over the heads of these creatures, as if it wanted to capture and condition them.     

And in this year of the Quadra-Centennial, we proudly and gladly feel that the Ukrainian-born Pernambuco writer Clarice Lispector is actually a great Carioca storyteller, in the good and noble lineage of Machado de Assis.Manchete, December 11, 1965

O poeta e outras crônicas de literatura e vida
Rubem Braga/Global Editora, 102 pages
Ed. Gustavo Henrique Tuna

[1] A British novelist, born in London (1882-1941). Her finesse recalls that of the French novelist Marcel Proust.

Matryoshka: two or three words on a travel notebook

, Matryoshka: two or three words on a travel notebook. IMS Clarice Lispector, 2017. Disponível em: https://site.claricelispector.ims.com.br/en/2017/06/29/matriosca-duas-ou-tres-palavras-sobre-um-caderno-de-viagem/. Acesso em: 28 May 2024.

Penworthy: thin notebook, fits in the palm of the hand, 17cm x 10.5cm and 58 pages. On the cover in cursive handwriting, and apparently with some pride, there is the name she assumed after being married: Clarice Gurgel Valente. As of January 23, 1943, Clarice Lispector would sign her name this way, full-time wife of the diplomat Maury Gurgel Valente who, that year, was appointed to serve as vice consul in Naples. The spouse will cross oceans right in the middle of the war to meet him in Italy. The trip lasts from July 19 to August 24, that is, more than a month in transit, in a state of travel, of expectation, of longing, of restlessness, and of anxiety. Tania, my dear sister, I love you.

It is her first international trip, straight to the unknown. Countries, people, marital status, the future unknown. Excited thoughts, through her eyes everything is new, everything is new, everything is – what goes through the body that it is not possible to share with the other? “What others are to the ascetic in a community, the notebook is to the recluse,” teaches Foucault. One writes, therefore, to relieve thought.

Coming to light in 2012 (prior to this it was under the care of the principal heir), the travel notebook is quite unique compared to the documents already known to researchers, editors and readers.

Penworthy overlaps different times. Sitting somewhere in Liberia, July 31, 1944, late at night, Clarice describes the experience of that day which she spent in still untouched villages of black people: “With the journalist Ana Kipper, the captain David Crockett, and Bill Young, I went to the black villages, Tallah, Kebbe, Sasstown”. She recalls what she did, what was said, what she saw. The booklet as a platform that keeps things from oblivion.

Liberia, Fisherman’s Lake, July 31, 1944

With the journalist Ana Kipper, the captain David Crockett,8 and Bill Young, I went to the black villages of Tallah, Kebbe, and Sasstown. Black women with bare breasts in villages where missionaries have not arrived. They work for the Americans and speak a little English (in Monrovia there are 24 or 25 dialects). They suddenly say: hello! They love to wave goodbye. I saw a young woman with very beautiful breasts. But most of them, still young, have large and sagging breasts. They are clean and healthy. But some children [14] have navels as big as oranges. A black man, to whom I had said goodbye and given a prolonged smile, on purpose, was enchanted and put his hand on his [erased].9 The young black women paint their faces with cream-colored strokes and their lower lips with a cream-colored paint. One of them asked for my shoes. Another, whose little boy was pleased by me, said: Baby nice, baby cry money. One of the guys gave her a nickel, she said: baby cry big money. One said something long and complicated. I saw that it was about me and she was laughing. (they laugh with great ease, but some are sad and even their laughter is one of humility and fascination.) I ask one of them, who spoke English, what she had said: he tried to summarize, finally saying: that you are fine, she likes you. They asked about my headscarf. I took it off to teach them how to put it on and when they saw my hair, they became serious and attentive.

Until Clarice interrupts the text and returns (returns?). “The missionary is talking about something with Ana Kipper.”- the gerund indicates that while recording the visit to the village, an episode parallel to the narrative and perhaps relevant was happening right there in front of her.

This return is somewhat cruel. How to go back, have dinner, go to the cinema, and move on? How not to turn inside out? Cinema will always be boring, dinner  lackluster. This return-no return recalls the story of the character Ana herself, from the short story “Love.” How to return home, to the children, to the husband, to make dinner, after having seen a blind man chewing gum? How to reorganize the room, clean up, after noticing and eating the cockroach? How to be happy dressed in pink at the Recife Carnival if the mother is dying?

Don’t return.

Clarice in that situation, that village of black people, would be just another tourist who would leave some money for the mother of the child who begs for “big money.” That episode for Clarice would be the impulse to compose the short story “The Smallest Woman in the World” (Family Ties, 1960 – “At that moment, Little Flower scratched herself where no one scratches.”), “Africa” (Foreign Legion, 1964) and “Corças negras” [Black Does] (Jornal do Brasil, April 5,1969). That is, twenty years would pass and the Fisherman’s Lake episode would not fail to echo.

The distance in time, in this case decades, is the right measure to join a biographical episode to a poetic text that serves to expand the fictional text. Biography intimately implicated in production.

Penworthy not only stands out from the other archival documents, but also escapes more technical archival definitions. Notebooks are common, like those of the Minas Gerais poet Paulo Mendes Campos and the study of the Russian language, and other manuscripts or typescripts for literary purposes. The normative classification, however, does not exactly fit the travel notebook. Is it a personal document? Yes, it holds very precise, informative data, accounts, and addresses. Is it an intellectual production? Yes, it holds excerpts that would be used in novels, short stories, and chronicles. Is it a planner? Yes, it contains dates, times, phone numbers, and appointments.

According to Louys Hay, there are two types of notebooks: diaries and work instruments. While the first are made up of notes whose referential space and temporality are defined by the clock and the calendar, the latter are dedicated almost exclusively to linguistic studies and experiments, the elaboration of phrases, titles, essays, and a list of proper names.

Although in the world of words no classification has an absolute value, Penworthy has both attributes, but it is a third type. This notebook would seem to be a composite, a genre that mixes the ephemeral and the essential, everyday events and literary projects, fragments of forms or ideas.

There are, in these writings, which have not yet passed, and will not pass, through the knife’s blade of the other – and this other can be the reader, the public, or the market -, there are energy expenditures in these hand gestures that do not correspond to any apprehended model. It may be a gain for the field of literature studies to think of this material not from the point of view of a certain curiosity regarding the erasure or which word the author has omitted – a very common approach to genetic criticism.

It may be a gain for the field of literature studies to think that a notebook retains the agitations of the body.

And to ask what language is that which serves both the author and the woman, the tourist, the wife of a diplomat? What language is this, the only possible and familiar presence in the face of an unknown world – Liberia, Portugal, Italy? How many folds can language make in the service of such and such a situation? The vernacular choreography in which an extremely utilitarian language and literary language converge on the same page?

A thousand folds. Matryoshka.

Dealing with this type of writing – that of writing in notebooks – means raising it to the category of a text that dialogues with experiences and events without repressing the documentary value and status of a literature that is inscribed there.

It is precisely in this writing medium, in this thin notebook, without, at first glance, robust literary content and disengaged from existing archival categories, that one finds a fundamental reading of not only geographical displacements, but, above all, of literary and personal displacements.

The notebook was described and its contents are available for reading here.

Illustration and Affect, A Conversation with Mariana Valente

, Illustration and Affect, A Conversation with Mariana Valente. IMS Clarice Lispector, 2017. Disponível em: https://site.claricelispector.ims.com.br/en/2017/04/10/ilustracao-e-afeto-conversa-com-mariana-valente/. Acesso em: 28 May 2024.

Starting next May, the shelves of Brazilian bookstores will display copies of A mulher que matou os peixes (“The Woman Who Killed the Fish”) with a new look. Published originally in 1968 by Sabiá, the second children’s book Clarice Lispector published during her lifetime will feature a reproduction of the dedication the author wrote for her children, Pedro and Paulo, and for her unborn grandchildren.

In this new edition from Rocco, our attention is drawn, above all, to the curious illustrations made from affective collages, “nostalgic materials that are relics laden with history and affect,” signed by, of all people, Mariana Valente, artist, native Rio de Janeiro designer, and Clarice’s granddaughter, who spoke with us here at the blog.

You have been working for some time on new editions of Clarice’s work for Rocco, such as As palavras (2013) and O tempo (2014), and are preparing A mulher que matou os peixes. For you, how is this approach and proximity to Clarice’s work?

It’s very curious how I resisted for a few years before diving alone into the beautiful abyss that is to read Clarice. I tried The Passion According to G.H. when I was fifteen, but the warning at the beginning of the book made me rethink and realize that I was far from being someone who was fully formed. I understood that I should wait a bit more. I also read Family Ties in school, for a Portuguese exam, and I was a bit detested by friends in the class who didn’t really understand what they had read well enough to manage the exam. Thus my first contact with the work of my grandmother was a little traumatic. But I started to watch some excellent plays in honor of Clarice, and I felt an enormous urgency to get to know this woman who was so close to me and yet at the same time so distant and mysterious. That was when I read An Apprenticeship at 16 and stopped resisting. Then came Água Viva, and from then on there was no turning back. One cannot likely read Clarice and be the same person as before reading her. The moment I chose (by then I was already an adult) to take up Passion According to G.H. again was very much a revelation for me. One of the most painful and lovely subjective experiences I have ever had. I feel like she helped me to grow through her books. This in particular was a motif for much investigation in therapy! I have more difficulty doing a project that involves my grandmother, because I get very emotional and become fragile, and I feel an enormous responsibility to find a way to translate her work graphically.

Still within the scope of literature and collage production, last year the renowned Portuguese chinaware brand Vista Alegre launched a tureen and special edition of A paixão segundo G.H. (The Passion According to G.H.), both illustrated by you. Recently, at the end of 2016 there was also the exhibition Lendas de Clarice (Clarice’s Legends) inspired by the book Doze lendas brasileiras – como nasceram as estrelas (How the Stars were Born: Twelve Brazilian Legends). Is there a difference among working with the production of objects, exhibitions, and graphic projects?

I think the biggest difference is the medium in which the work takes place, but the process for any new project is more or less the same. If I already have an idea of what I want to do, I go in search of the material (manual or digital), select the images, and then comes the cutting and fitting process. I always photograph this part of the process, because it helps me to see the gaps and flaws to correct. The last phase is to glue and join the parts together. But normally the Clarice splices take more time.

And with regard to your work process, how does it function? What’s the relation between text and image, memory and affect?

In the same way that the writing and reading of Clarice’s texts is done in an almost experimental way, in a stream of consciousness and in the raw, the work with collage also has a similar effect on those who do it and those who observe it. The whole process is very symbolic, and I try to resignify the image in the image itself, much as Clarice resignifies the word in the word itself.

This brings us to our fourth question: Mariana Valente as a reader of Clarice Lispector and Mariana Valente as a granddaughter of Clarice Lispector. Are there boundaries between them? Which came first?

The granddaughter, no doubt. When I was younger and someone found out that I was Clarice’s granddaughter, the person would be emotionally moved and I didn’t understand. I didn’t know her personally but it seemed that everyone who read her knew her deeply. Thus I suspected that reading her work would be very revealing. Like it was, and like it is.