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: 02 March 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.

A Wild Review of Near to the Wild Heart

, A Wild Review of Near to the Wild Heart. IMS Clarice Lispector, 2017. Disponível em: https://site.claricelispector.ims.com.br/en/2017/03/03/uma-critica-selvagem-para-perto-do-coracao/. Acesso em: 02 March 2024.

It is the end of 1943. A publishing house of little cultural relevance, A Noite, releases the exceptional original version of Near to the Wild Hearta book by a 22-year-old author and former employee of the publisher. Two of the main critics of the time, Álvaro Lins and Otto Maria Carpeaux, had prior access to the manuscripts. Both the editor of the prestigious José Olympio and Carpeaux advised against its publication. Contrary to these opinions, the book comes out with an initial print run of a thousand copies (sold out by June of the following year). The author does not earn much beyond a hundred copies to distribute among friends and family.

Lins, as one of the most respected critics and also editor-in-chief of the newspaper Correio da Manhã, will publish in the aforementioned newspaper on February 11, 1944 the article “Lyrical Novel,” dedicated to Near to the Wild Heart and its unknown author, Clarice Lispector.

The arguments the critic uses, read from today’s perspective, guarantee a reading that on the one hand is absurd in how it uses as a criterion the female gender in opposition to the male gender to justify many aspects of the work, and on the other hand does not fail to be amusing.

A characteristic of women’s literature is the very visible and ostensive, foregrounded presence of the author’s personality. Certainly, in a general sense every literary work must be the expression, the revelation of a personality. Yet in male temperaments there is a greater tendency to make the author a figure hidden behind his creations (…) next one sees that women are particularly inclined towards these literary forms that permit more direct and sensitive projections of their personalities.

Álvaro Lins will place the novel within the lyrical, “the discovery of a new psychological world, (…) this kind of adventure, of exploration through terrains of human passions that until then have been unexplored,” choosing as exemplary the literature produced by Proust, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

And the work of poetic and psychological adventure, more than any other, is the modern English novel, in which a few women writers are the most representative figures. And the union of lyricism with realism, of the poetic sentiment with the capacity for observation, is what removes from the modern poetic novel its tendency toward gluttony and a rosy view of life. (…) There is no contradiction between lyricism and an acute vision of the world, a vision that is sometimes poignant and cruel. An example in fiction of this surprising effect that emerged from the intertwining of lyricism and realism is in the work of Virginia Woolf. 

And within this tradition, “I am not afraid to affirm, however,” says the critic, “that the book of Mrs. Clarisse Lispector (sic) is the first definite experiment of the modern lyrical novel made in Brazil,” combining the technique of the author of Ulysses with the “female temperament.”

Although he recognizes that Near to the Wild Heart “provokes right away a disturbing surprise. The surprise of things that are truly new and original,” Lins concludes the article by presenting the novel as incomplete, “full of images, but without intimate unity. Here are pieces of a great novel, but not the great novel that the author will, undoubtedly, be able to write later.”

Clarice, recently married and living in Belém, writes to her sister Tânia Kaufmann, on February 16 – that is, five days after publication of this article: “The reviews are not good for me. The one by Álvaro Lins (…) depressed me and that was good in a way. I wrote to him saying I was unfamiliar with Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Proust when I wrote the book, because the devil of a man all but called me a ‘commercial representative’ for these writers.” But the somewhat annoyed letter was not sent, in the end. 

In a less exalted spirit, Clarice herself considers the review and says in a new missive from February 23: “I didn’t write to Álvaro Lins saying that about the novel not being ‘my novel’ because I didn’t interpret his review like that.”

At this point, however, neither Álvaro Lins nor Clarice were aware that in October of the same year Near to the Wild Heart would receive the Graça Aranha award, whose main selection criteria was for debut books “with a marked character of originality.”

A Manhã, October 13, 1943/Hemeroteca Digital

The Foundation had already honored the premières of Rachel de Queiroz, Erico Verissimo, Jorge de Lima, and Murilo Mendes, among others. Later, in the column “Livros do dia – dois minutos no país das letras” (Books of the day – two minutes in literature country), among several small literary news items there was an almost prophetic note written by an unknown J.B.: “(…) The Graça Aranha Foundation concedes the highly coveted prize award for the greatest female debut of all time in Brazilian literature. Clarice Lispector, author of Near to the Wild Heart, is honored with her beautiful book. Never has there been so much justice in the granting of a literary award.”

Notes