Colm Tóibín at the New York Review of Books:
Clarice Lispector was born in Ukraine in 1920 and taken to Brazil as an infant. Raised in Recife, the north of the country, she married a diplomat and thus spent many years traveling before returning to Brazil to live in Rio de Janeiro. In 1966 she was badly injured in a fire in her apartment. She died in 1977.
By the time of her death, she had become, Benjamin Moser writes in his biography of her, “one of the mythical figures of Brazil, the Sphinx of Rio de Janeiro, a woman who fascinated her countrymen virtually from adolescence.”* Her looks were often commented on and there was much gushing nonsense written about her. The translator Gregory Rabassa, for example, recalled being “flabbergasted to meet that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.” The poet Ferreira Gullar remarked that “she looked like a she-wolf, a fascinating wolf.” And the French critic Hélène Cixous declared that Lispector was what Kafka would have been had he been a woman, or “if Rilke had been a Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine. If Rimbaud had been a mother, if he had reached the age of fifty. If Heidegger could have ceased being German.”