Clarice Lispector and Jewishness

Adam Kirsch on exoticism and Jewish identity
Clarice Lispector
From The Tablet (link via 3:AM Magazine): 'If you take the four volumes of Clarice Lispector’s fiction recently published by New Directions and put them side by side, their covers join to make up a single image of Lispector’s face. It is a clever allusion to, and example of, the way so much commentary on Lispector focuses on her appearance. In a much-quoted sentence, the translator Gregory Rabassa called her “that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.” This kind of focus on a woman writer’s appearance is all too common—it happens with Virginia Woolf as well—but in the case of Lispector, her exotic beauty was just one element in a larger myth that she herself did much to cultivate. As Benjamin Moser, who edited these four books, showed in his 2009 biography Why This World, even during her lifetime Lispector was the subject of wild rumors and speculation by her fellow Brazilians. She was said to be a foreigner, or maybe a man writing under a pseudonym; “reading accounts of her at different points in her life,” Moser writes, “one can hardly believe they concern the same person.”' [Read More]

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