Stephen Henighan at The Quarterly Conversation:
A popular critical shorthand describes Clarice Lispector as the Virginia Woolf of South America. A better analogy would be Silvina Ocampo. Benjamin Moser’s Lispector biographyWhy This World (2009) makes clear that as a poor Jewish immigrant who grew up in an isolated region, married a diplomat, and wrote most of her early fiction abroad, Lispector was a latecomer to her country’s Rio de Janeiro–based literary firmament. By contrast, Ocampo, like Woolf, was a descendant of 19th-century aristocrats, married a well-known man from her own social class, and spent nearly her entire career in the capital city where she was born. As Woolf was able to publish through her husband Leonard’s Hogarth Press, so Ocampo had at her disposal the magazine and publishing house of her sister Victoria’s famous Sur. Like the inhabitants of Bloomsbury, the Buenos Aires clique to which Ocampo belonged—an extension of the European-influenced Florida poetry movement of the 1920s—was cosmopolitan in its reading, apolitical or reactionary in its ideology, and sexually intertwined. In aesthetic terms, the writing of Ocampo, Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Sur’s long-time managing editor, José Bianco, constituted a coherent literary statement. Until recently, this unity has been overlooked: Borges overshadowed the other three writers’ work, shrinking their achievements to acolytes’ imitations of a master. The reassessment of Bioy Casares’s fiction has begun to correct this imbalance; now it is Silvina Ocampo’s turn.