Peer Review: Clarice LispectorAn ode to Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, by award-winning author (and avid fan) David Keenan.

Peer Review: Clarice LispectorAn ode to Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, by award-winning author (and avid fan) David Keenan.

  • Words David Keenan
  • Photograph Unknown Photographer / Lêdo Ivo Collection / Instituto Moreira Salles

ÁGUA VIVA

Clarice Lispector, the Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist and short-story writer, arrived fully formed. Her debut novel, the astonishing Near to the Wild Heart, was published in 1943 when she was only 23 years old.

The book cribs its title from James Joyce and, like Joyce, Lispector believed in the possibility of epiphany through language—that it is possible to enter into a profound form of communion with it, a sort of deeper knowing.

A Breath of Life, published posthumously and never completed in her lifetime, is the oddest book ever written about the act of writing, about how writing actually feels when you are inside it, as well as the responsibilities and complexes that it evokes. For me, writing has always been akin to a state of possession, and Lispector captures that feeling ...

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