Clarice Lispector polished her prose until it shimmered with a taut irregularity

Kofman_lispector_imgAva Kofman at The Nation:

Much like that elusive goal, Lispector’s persona was almost always out of reach: hidden in language, fragments, gazes. She often obscured the details of her birth in 1920, treating it as an incidental event in her family’s escape from the anti-Jewish pogroms in Chechelnik, Ukraine. (They eventually settled in the northern Brazilian city of Recife.) Lispector scholar Earl Fitz wasn’t the first critic, hungry for authenticity, to call her an “incorrigible liar.” “She wore a lot of masks,” Fitz said, “and when she would take one off you’d think she was revealing something, but all she was revealing was another mask.”

Throughout her lifetime, the rumors persisted: Her name was a pseudonym; she didn’t exist; she was a liar, a diplomat, a man. Idra Novey, in the afterword to her recent translation of The Passion According to G.H., recalls a telling anecdote: A young woman, obsessed with Lispector’s work, is desperate to meet her. But when the young woman finally visits, Lispector sits silently in her apartment, staring and saying nothing, until the acolyte, terrified, flees.

Novey’s anecdote of an anecdote resembles most of Lispector’s stories: a simple plot, prolonged by the author’s stubborn meditations on emptiness, God, mortality, and eternity—­in other words, an extended wrestling with the void where language is not.

more here.