Clarice Lispector Coverage–Where’s the Beef?

I understand that Lorrie Moore's article in the NY Review is ostensibly covering a biography, but nonetheless I see six novels by Lispector below the title and two serious works of criticism about Lispector below those, and thus I develop certain expectations. That is, expectations for some textual and/or aesthetic analysis of Lispector's novels. (This is the New York Review, after all.) But that is in very short supply in this article.

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed. And I don't mean this to be just a criticism of Moore. For some reason people have actually been talking about Clarice Lispector because of this biography. It seems that reviewers have gone out of their way to enthuse about great she is, and how under-appreciated she is in the U.S. That's nice and all, but damned if anyone has shown very much interest in engaging her books in these reviews. And thus I develop the sneaking suspicion that some of these people giving off the impression that they have read Lispector haven't. (Shocking, I know)

Completely by coincidence (I didn't know the biography was in the works when the essay was assigned) we've just published an essay on Lispector that does consider one of her works to a significant degree. So, if you find yourself in my position, give that a shot.

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I, too, (when I suggested and offered to try to do a essay on Clarice Lispector for The Quarterly Conversation months ago and Scott graciously accepted my proposal,) wasn’t aware of the recent biography. I am embarassed to admit so. I think I was more dismayed by Dwight Garner’s sardonic, flippant take on Lispector in the New York Times, though. Garner clearly never read her work but was mocking Lispector’s seriousness in ways that truly offended me, citing instances based her private psychology which I believe to be false. That kind of snide remarking and belitting of a writer without even considering her body of work pushes all my buttons and is really troubling. One would hope rather dismiss this wonderful biography The New York Times reviewer would support and applaud it for bringing an important and neglected writer to public awareness. And done so with humility, not ridicule.
By way of suggestion and alternative, Philip Graham wrote a remarkably responsible and astute review of Mosley’s biography in THE NEW LEADER. I hope readers will find it. Phil also wrote me when this essay came out to tell me about his review of the biography which he thought very, very highly of. Phil’s recent articles in THE BELIEVER were about his year in Portugal and he has a really impressive take on Lispector who wrote in Portugese.
Sorry if I sound so touchy, but it hurts when there is a writer of Lispector’s importance who gets such treatment in the “literary press”. I did, though, understand again why her work is difficult for people in the States, in Brazil she’s a national heroine, and she is lauded and celebrated all around the world, too.

I can’t remember where I first heard about Lispector, probably read something online, mayby you, Snr. Esposito. So on August 12 I ordered The Passion According to G.H. from Amazon. To date, they still haven’t shipped it. In fact, they say they’re not sure exactly when they will ship it. I’m hoping this isn’t just incompetence on Amazon’s part.
Which suggests to me that there’s enough demand out there for her books to sell out. Which tells me SOMEONE out there is reading Lispector.

Muzzy, I hope you receive it and enjoy her. There’s a wonderful one-line book store called, run by Mark Thwaite where I’m sure, too, you can find her work just in case amazon doesn’t come through. It started in the UK but recently started up a branch in the States, (also they ship for free!)
I think, too, there are more people here that do want to read her, and her books are hard to get hold of and find.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

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