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The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

The Hour of the Star (1977)

by Clarice Lispector

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector; (4*)
Translation by Giovanni Pontiero

In The Hour of the Star, Lispector speaks through an affluent, sophisticated but angry narrator to tell the story of Macabéa, a poor, undernourished, unattractive, inexperienced nineteen year old girl from Northeast Brazil who struggles to survive in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Lispector's final and best known work brings together all of the philosophical themes that she considered over her writing career. The nature of truth, the meaning of existence, the power of language, the finality of death and the role of spirituality.
The real story of this poor and starving girl, desperate for love and attention, is actually the real story of millions of others just like her in the world. You don't need a degree to understand The Hour of the Star. All you need is a heart.
The narrator is paralyzed by wondering not just who he is but who Macabéa is. She is a nineteen year old girl struggling to survive in the slums. She is poor, starving, ugly and alone but not unhappy. In fact she is full of a kind of inner grace that even the urbane and sophisticated narrator can't achieve. As he watches her go about her short and tragic life he can't help but wonder what is the point? But as she has never had anything, it literally has never occurred to her to question why life has to be the way it is. She's too poor and hungry to think about anything beyond the next meal and the next day.

"(There are those who have. And there are those who have not. It's very simple: the girl had not. Hand't what? Simply this: she had not. If you get my meaning that's fine. If you don't, it's still fine. But why am I bothering about this girl when what I really want is wheat that turns ripe and golden in summer?)"
~a quote from the narrator: Rodrigo

This is an excellent little book. One very worthy of the reader's time and attention. ( )
  rainpebble | Aug 4, 2015 |

The Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector's name is among the many Hispanic authors Roberto Bolaño's yearning young writers -- who live only to become writers themselves – put on their lists of sacred names – and so one wants to get to know these inspirational artists. For Lispector, though The Hours of the Star was perhaps not a good place to begin: it was her last work, and very short, so more reading is needed to get a real feel for her work.

The Hours of the Star, however, is attractively transparent in the modern way about the fiction project it embodies, and about what will happen, as the title's meaning comes early on. In lieu of a plot, the story unfolds in a series of vignettes from the protagonist's life, sparsely punctuated with the author's thoughts. Despite the squalor and apparent hopelessness in her life, the character of girl from the country the book chronicles creates in the end an effect of peculiar exhilaration.

I'm looking forward to longer works, perhaps more expressive of Clarice Lispector's full range. For now, The Hours of the Star stands as an intense meditation on a short, obscure life.
  V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
A perfect book. ( )
  le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
Não é o tipo de literatura que eu aprecio, mas eu respeito a construção do livro em camadas: Clarice no topo, o narrador Rodrigo e a personagem Macabea. Em Rodrigo e Macabea a autora descarrega suas questões e angustias e o jogo de aflições se desenvolve em alternâncias, em idas e vindas tais que, ao fim do livro resta apenas um grande vazio. ( )
  Ursula.Wetzel | Aug 20, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarice Lispectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moser, BenjaminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tóibín, ColmIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Clarice stirs in the greater depths, where the world finds its true meaning, portraying mankind.
('Vision of Clarice Lispector')
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
For Olga Borelli
First words
Everything in the world began with a yes.
Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?
To probe oneself is to recognize that one is incomplete.
Things were somehow so good that they were close to becoming very bad because what is fully mature is very close to rotting.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Macabea, a young woman from the backwoods, arrives in bewildering Rio. Homely, ignorant, without skills or experience, she lodges in a shabby tenement in a squalid red-light district. Her transient boyfriend, a strutting lout and sham, soon abandons her.
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Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabe a, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabe a loves movies, Coca-Colas, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid the realization that for all her outward misery, Macabe a is inwardly free/She doesn't seem to know how unhappy she should be. Lispector employs her pathetic heroine against her urbane, empty narrator - edge of despair to edge of despair - and, working them like a pair of scissors, she cuts away the reader's preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love and the art of fiction. In her last book she takes readers close to the true mystery of life and leave us deep in Lispector territory indeed.… (more)

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