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3:AM Cult Hero: Clarice Lispector

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“Make no mistake, you can only achieve simplicity through a lot of hard work.”

Lee Rourke on Clarice Lispector‘s silences:

It is essential that voice should be natural; it should be immediate; it should address the reader directly; without being obvious or familiar, for surely it is the voices that we have never heard before, yet recognise immediately, that stir us the most. Voice should be alien without alienating the reader and it should always be compelling, otherwise we fall into the trap of disgust, or worse still: whimsy. So, voice isn’t necessarily something, as much as we recognise it, the reader should feel comfortable with; it should jolt the reader, not dazzle.

Although, there is a lot more to The Hour of the Star: human beings such as Macabéa have no real voice of their own. They are meaningless entities who exist on the peripheries. Without extravagant voices such as Rodrigo S. M’s, used so adroitly by Lispector, a voice as silent as Macabéa’s could never be heard. It seems Clarice Lispector understands the power of voice in the novel.

But silence? What is this silence within The Hour of the Star? In Rodrigo S.M.’s narration? In Clarice Lispector’s writing itself? Clarice Lispector once proclaimed The Hour of the Star as a book made without words. Lispector’s silence is Macabéa’s sorrow, and just because we never hear it, this doesn’t mean that it’s not there throughout. It is Macabéa’s bona fide voice; and this silence in The Hour of the Star is the power of Clarice Lispector as a writer: knowing just what to leave out.

Further: Offical website [in Portuguese] / Exhibition in Brazil / ‘An enigmatic author who can be addictive’ by Julie Salamon / Woman of mystery by Benjamin Moser [audio] / ‘Dizzy with life’ by Anderson Tepper.

First posted: Friday, February 19th, 2010.

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