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Passionate Fictions

Passionate Fictions: Gender, Narrative, and Violence in Clarice Lispector

Marta Peixoto
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Passionate Fictions
    Book Description:

    "Clarice Lispector is the premiere Latin American woman prose writer of this century," Suzanne Ruta noted in the New York Times Book Review, "but because she is a woman and a Brazilian, she has remained virtually unknown in the United States." Passionate Fictions provides American readers with a critical introduction to this remarkable writer and offers those who already know Lispector's fiction a deeper understanding of its complex workings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8470-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xx)

    Clarice Lispector might, but for a twist of fate, have become a writer in the English language. She was born in the small Ukrainian village of Tchetchelnik: a necessary stop for her birth along the way when her parents, Ukrainian Jews, had set out to emigrate, not yet knowing their destination. They had relatives both in the United States and in Brazil and for a while hesitated between North and South America (Moreira 1981).¹ Arriving in Brazil at age two months, Lispector came to consider the country and its language her own. Like other major Brazilian Writers, Lispector looked upon...

  5. 1 The Young Artist and the Snares of Gender
    (pp. 1-23)

    Near to the Wild Heart,Clarice Lispector’s first novel, published in 1944, is not the work of a seventeen-year-old, as Lispector herself claimed in more than one interview¹ and as critics have often repeated, but a strikingly mature and still precocious novel written by a young woman in her early twenties. We now know that Lispector was born in 1920 and not in 1925, the year she preferred to give as her birth date before altering it further to 1926 and 1927 toward the end of her life.² These equivocations, certainly of interest to biographers and literary historians, are pertinent...

  6. 2 Female Power in Family Ties
    (pp. 24-38)

    In “The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman,” the opening story ofLafos de familia(1960;Family Ties) the young protagonist arrives home completely drunk after an evening out with her husband. She feels her body grow enormously as surrounding objects turn into her own flesh:

    And, as she half closed her eyes, everything became flesh, the foot of the bed flesh, the window flesh, the suit her husband had thrown on the chair flesh, and everything almost hurt. And she became bigger and bigger, hesitant, swollen, gigantic. (FT34)¹

    Many of the stories in the collection focus on such moments...

  7. 3 The Nurturing Text in Hélène Cixous and Clarice Lispector
    (pp. 39-59)

    “Who are you who are so strangely me?” Hélène Cixous asks, echoing an insistent inquiry she finds in Lispector’s texts (Cixous 1991a, 169). This same question also animates Cixous’s own fascinated scrutiny of Lispector. Her extensive readings include three books completely devoted to Lispector (Vivre I’orange/To Live the Orange,1979b;L’heure de Clarice Lispector[1989,The Hour of Clarice Lispector]; andReading with Clarice Lispector,1990), as well as several articles and parts of books, forming a considerable body of writing that is remarkable on many counts.¹ Cixous’s tender approach to the text of this woman, who is both other...

  8. 4 A Woman Writing: Fiction and Autobiography The Stream of Life and The Stations of the Body
    (pp. 60-81)

    Some writers, in their maturity, bring to new levels of refinement and effectiveness the repertory of forms they developed in their earlier years. Lispector belongs to the different breed of those who end their careers by questioning the very forms they have shaped. Lispector’s late narratives register an eagerness to try out new directions and, by implication, a critique of her earlier achievements.The conflicting forces that had been visible mainly in the realm of representation—her characters and their fictive worlds—now also come to govern her insistent inquiry about the value of her writing, and of literature itself, about...

  9. 5 Rape and Textual Violence
    (pp. 82-99)

    Persistently, from her earliest fiction, Lispector imagines stories about characters construed as victims.¹ InNear to the Wild Heart,inFamily Ties,and elsewhere, she turns an acute gaze to the exercise of personal power, to the push and pull of the strong and the weak, and particularly to the dynamics of victimization. Usually, but not always, the victims are female; sometimes the line between victim and victimizer blurs, or, in a sudden reversal, the two exchange places. In Lispector’s early short story collections, such asFamily Ties(1960), the family is the site of many of these battles. Victims...

  10. Afterword: The Violence of a Heart
    (pp. 100-102)

    In 1952, Lispector published acrônicaabout Virginia Woolf, which, because it brings together female gender, writing, and violence, can lead us to some brief concluding thoughts (Lispector 1952b). Entitled “The Violence of a Heart” (“A violência de um coração"), Lispector’s essay is a retelling of the famous Judith Shakespeare episode from Woolf’sRoom of One’s Own, ending with the equally famous quotation: “Who can measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?“ (Woolf 1929, 50). Many years later, in 1977, Lispector republished this same piece. Although reissuing something published earlier...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 103-108)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 109-112)
  13. Index
    (pp. 113-116)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 117-117)