In the introduction to the collection of studies The Word According to Clarice Lispector, the editors Luciana Namorato and César Ferreira present their clear goal of gathering “a variety of points of view and cultural contexts” regarding the works of Lispector (11). The book collects fifteen articles in English, Portuguese and Spanish, and indeed addresses Lispector’s multifaceted production, being divided into three sections dedicated to her novels, her short stories, and [End Page 155] her chronicles and journalism, besides including a preliminary section with homages to the author.
Opening the “Homages,” Moacyr Scliar discusses some aspects of Lispector’s work that in his view may seem paradoxical: namely that she had an excellent understanding of Brazil despite – but really because – of being an immigrant herself; that she paid special attention to women’s condition even if she was not a militant feminist, and finally that her texts were never politically engaged although she defended freedom of speech and wrote at a time of engaged literatures (15). For Scliar, these apparent contradictions are resolved in Lispector’s uniqueness, nowadays regarded as the author’s merit. In a literary essay, Marjorie Agosín offers us her meditations with the works of Lispector. The preposition is relevant since these meditations are created in a dialogue with Lispector’s texts, and according to Agosín were directly prompted by their reading, often incorporating their characters and titles. Interesting insights are presented, such as the recognition that Lispector creates small “Davides” (18), human-scale heroes challenging the adversities of life, or the perspective that this literature operates in a dimension of silences, surprises and transfigurations. Also establishing a dialogue with Lispector’s texts is the short story “Orquídeas para Clarice,” by Sonia Coutinho, in which the main character, Vera, meets Clarice Lispector in Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden. Vera taps in to Lispector’s words and integrates in her speech direct quotes of the writer, regarding issues such as joy, loneliness, love, death, mystery or destiny.
Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna opens the section of the book dedicated to Lispector’s novels, with one of most stimulating studies in the volume. The study analyzes structural patterns of Lispector’s prose, such as the use of a “concentric narrative technique” (35) that in Sant’Anna’s view allows “the text itself to breathe” (37), the privilege given to oxymoronic structures (58), a tripartite pattern underlying the revelation of the central epiphanies in the stories (which coincide with diegetic climaxes, and often take the shape of catastrophes), and a binary structure associated with the evolution of the characters, often placed “between dualities” (56). This structural approach also allows for a very relevant symbolic reading of ritualistic aspects of Lispector’s prose.
Ida Vitale values Lispector’s capacity to challenge novelistic conventions, and remarks that, in her iconoclastic attitude, the writer was an early, and rather independent, successor to Mário de Andrade (69). Other aspects pointed out regarding the novels are the “incommunication between the characters” (71), which stems from their difficulty to understand and accept themselves, and the role different objects often undertake as “aggressive exteriorities” (72). Berta Waldman analyses the works of Clarice and Elisa Lispector in an attempt to understand “o lugar do judaísmo” in the works of both sisters (77). A contrast is established between the presence of Judaic topics in Elisa Lispector’s highly autobiographical No exílio and the idea that in Lispector’s works this presence is felt less in terms of concrete topics and references but rather in the “movimentos circulares de sua linguagem, na maneira estratégica como nela se inscreve o [End Page 156] silêncio” (87). The suggestion that Clarice Lispector’s way of dealing with Judaism may be by trying to rid her works of its presence (88), though, seems to assume that these Judaic elements should...