Clarice Lispector

Brazilian writer

Clarice Lispector (December 10, 1920December 9, 1977) was a Brazilian writer. Acclaimed internationally for her innovative novels and short stories, she was also a journalist and a translator. A legendary figure in Brazil, renowned for her uncommon and unique writing style, her great personal beauty — the American translator Gregory Rabassa recalled being "flabbergasted to meet that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf," — and her eccentric personality.

Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born.


  • At first she dreamed of sheep, of going to school, of cats drinking milk. Little by little she dreamed of blue sheep, of going to school in the middle of the woods, of cats drinking milk from golden saucers. And her dreams became increasingly dense and acquired colours that were difficult to dilute into words.
  • Perhaps I have not been made for the pure, expansive waters, but for those which are small and readily accesible. And perhaps my craving for another source, which gives me the expression of someone in search of food, perhaps this craving is a whim - and nothing more. Yet surely those rare moments of self-confidence, of blind existence, of happiness as intense and serene as an organ playing - surely those moments prove that I am capable of fulfilling my quest and that this longing which consumes my whole being is not merely some whim? Moreover, that whim is the truth!
  • Was that, then, the way we do things? "Not knowing"— was that the way the most profound things happened? ... Was the secret of never escaping from the greater life the secret of living like a sleepwalker?
  • Reality prior to my language exists as an unthinkable thought. . . . life precedes love, bodily matter precedes the body, and one day in its turn language shall have preceded possession of silence.
  • Whether she won or lost, she would continue to wrestle with life. It would not be with her own life alone but with all of life. Something had finally been released within her. And there it was, the sea.
    • An Apprenticeship, or The Book of Delights (1968)
  • There it is, the sea, the most incomprehensible of non-human existences.
    • An Apprenticeship, or The Book of Delights (1968)
  • Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born. But before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I do not know why, but I do know that the universe never began.
  • I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort. So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing.
  • My life, the most truthful one, is unrecognizable, extremely interior, and there is no single word that gives it meaning.
  • Who hasn't asked oneself, am I a monster or is this what it means to be human?

Quotes about Clarice LispectorEdit

  • Clarice Lispector spent the first two months of her life in the town of Chechelnik in Ukraine. This is a small, short fact. The interesting question, unanswered in the places I've looked for it, is: At what age did she enter the Portuguese language? And how much Russian did she bring with her? Any Yiddish? Sometimes I think this is what her work is about . . . one language trying to make itself at home in another. Sometimes there's hospitality, sometimes a quarrel
  • (There isn't a mean bone in the body of Lispector's work.) But there is sadness, aloneness (which is a little different than loneliness). Some of the characters try desperately to get out of the stories. Others retreat into their own fictions-seem to be waiting and relieved by Lispector's last embracing sentence. Lispector was lucky to have begun to think about all these lives (men's lives as well as women's) in the early years of the women's movement, that is, at a time when she found herself working among the scrabbly low tides of that movement in the ignorance which is often essential to later understanding. That historical fact is what has kept her language crooked and clean.

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