Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector

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Oxford University Press, Jul 1, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 496 pages
"That rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf," Clarice Lispector is one of the most popular but least understood of Latin American writers. Now, after years of research on three continents, drawing on previously unknown manuscripts and dozens of interviews, Benjamin Moser demonstrates how Lispector's development as a writer was directly connected to the story of her turbulent life. Born in the nightmarish landscape of post-World War I Ukraine, Clarice became, virtually from adolescence, a person whose beauty, genius, and eccentricity intrigued Brazil. Why This World tells how this precocious girl, through long exile abroad and difficult personal struggles, matured into a great writer. It also asserts, for the first time, the deep roots in the Jewish mystical tradition that make her the true heir to Kafka as well as the unlikely author of "perhaps the greatest spiritual autobiography of the twentieth century." From Chechelnik to Recife, from Naples and Berne to Washington and Rio de Janeiro, Why This World strips away the mythology surrounding this extraordinary figure and shows how Clarice Lispector transformed one woman's struggles into a universally resonant art.
 

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Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector

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Feminist issues, metaphysical concepts of love and death, stream of consciousness-all emerge in the crisp, engaging fiction of Brazilian author Clarice Lispector (e.g., Near to the Wild Heart). Widely ... Read full review

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The Publishers Week review of 'Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector' starts by: "This pioneering biography of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (1920–1977)—a genius of character as much as a literary magician— ..." - Though this biography is excellent in its contents and goals, it is not a 'pioneering' work. Many others, of high quality, reliable and coherent with several aspects of Lispector's life and works need to be recognized also. Most of them are in Portuguese. Moser's biography must be a pioneer Lispector's biography in English, as far as I know. But it is not a pioneering in universal terms. Readership was already aware of many dimensions of Lispector's life, though Moser's contribution is unbeatable in his pursuit of a few details never revealed before. His work is highly commendable, but it is not a trail blazer...  

Contents

1 Fun Vonen Is a Yid?
7
2 That Irrational Something
12
3 The Average Pogrom
25
4 The Missing Name
33
5 Statue of Liberty
38
6 Griene Gringos
47
7 The Magical Stories
59
8 National Melodrama
67
27 Better Than Borges
250
28 The Cockroach
261
29 And Revolution
270
30 The Egg Really Is White
275
31 A Coarse Cactus
281
32 Possible Dialogues
285
33 Cultural Terror
291
34 I Humanized Myself
298

9 Only for Madmen
74
10 Flying Down to Rio
81
11 God Stirs the Waters
96
12 Straight from the Zoo
109
13 Hurricane Clarice
119
14 Trampoline to Victory
129
15 Principessa di Napoli
137
16 The Society of Shadows
148
17 Volume in the Brain
157
18 The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace
167
19 The Public Statue
176
20 The Third Experience
182
21 Her Empty Necklaces
190
22 Marble Mausoleum
200
23 The Intimate Balance
210
24 Redemption through Sin
219
25 The Worst Temptation
230
26 Belonging to Brazil
240
35 Monstre Sacré
306
36 The Story of Instants That Flee
313
37 Purged
322
38 Batuba Jantiram Lecoli?
327
39 Hen in Black Sauce
336
40 Pornography
344
41 The Witch
350
42 The Thing Itself
355
43 Lispectorian Silence
360
44 Speaking from the Tomb
367
45 Our Lady of the Good Death
371
Epilogue
385
Acknowledgments
389
Notes
395
Works Cited
439
Illustration Credits
447
Index
449
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Benjamin Moser is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and a contributor to the New York Review of Books and Conde Nast Traveler. His translation of The Hour of the Star inaugurated New Directions' Clarice Lispector series, of which he is the Editor. He lives in the Netherlands.

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