Lispector, Clarice

Lispector, Clarice klârˈĭs lēspĕkˈtər [key], 1920–77, Brazilian author, b. in what is now Chechelnyk, Ukraine, as Chaya Pinkhasovna Lispector. She immigrated to Brazil as an infant when her Jewish family fled the Russian pogroms. An editor, translator, newspaper columnist, and law student as well as a fiction writer, Lispector was married to a diplomat and traveled widely; she was renowned for her exotic beauty as well as for her literary talents. In 1959 she divorced and returned to Brazil. Lispector burst on the Brazilian literary scene in 1943 with the publication of her first novel, the semiautobiographical Near to the Wild Heart (tr. 1990). Her avant-garde modernist fiction—elusive, mysterious, and relatively plotless with a collagelike and elliptical stream-of-consciousness style—has been extremely influential in Brazil, where she is both popular and highly regarded critically, and in Europe. In North America, however, she was little known until the early 21st cent. Many of her nine novels, e.g., The Apple in the Dark (1961, tr. 1967), The Passion According to G. H. (1964, tr. 1988; considered by many her finest novel), The Hour of the Star (1977, tr. 1986), and nine short-story collections, e.g., Family Ties (1960, tr. 1972) and Soulstorm (tr. 1989), focus on human isolation, alienation, and moral uncertainty, and particularly on the unhappiness of women. The Chandelier (1946, tr. 2018), her second novel and one of her most difficult, consists mainly of interior monologues. She also wrote a number of children's books.

See her complete stories (tr. 2015) and newspaper columns in Selected Crónicas (tr. 1996); biography by B. Moser (2009); D. E. Marting, ed., Clarice Lispector: A Bio-Bibliography (1993); studies by E. E. Fitz (1985 and 2001), H. Cixous (tr. 1990), M. Peixoto (1994), M. J. S. Barbosa (1997), and C. P. Alonso and C. Williams, ed. (2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Latin American Literature: Biographies