Clarice Lispector (1925-1977) - Biography
Clarice Lispector (1925-1977)
Commentary by Karen Bernardo
Clarice Lispector's quirky stories demonstrate her fascination with the creative process, rather than the actual
act of storytelling.
Born in the Ukraine in 1925, Lispector moved to Brazil as an infant. She began writing as a teenager, and read
voraciously, not only from Brazilian literature but from the works of contemporary authors of Europe and the United
States. She was particularly influenced by the French existentialist philosophers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul
After graduating from the National Faculty of Law, she became a journalist. One might expect that her journalistic
career would have produced a tendency to write straightforward, sequential prose, but instead she quickly
established herself as a master of the odd, the surreal, the mystical. Both of the stories we've chosen to discuss,
'The Chicken' and 'The Fifth Story,' feature animals in them, as Lispector seems to have seen animals as perfect
canvases for the unfolding of life's epiphanies. Never content to 'just tell the story,' her prose experiments with
-- and often transgress -- the boundaries of language and traditional narrative structure. Thematically, her work
often contrasts the inborn urge to survive with the cynical knowledge that we are all, someday, bound to die; this
sense of being inexorably dragged, kicking and screaming, toward one's doom pervades both stories we read
Lispector herself did not live a long life, dying at the age of 52 from cancer. Yet her legacy is contained in her
unique glimpses into facets of life which often go unnoticed by those of us who don't have eyes to see.
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