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The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
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The Hour of the Star (1977)

by Clarice Lispector

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This book was assigned for a class on contemporary culture (focusing mostly on Brazil & Japan), but I didn't read it. I picked it up the other day and read all the way through in one day on buses as I ran errands across the city, eventually I had to stop and sit at a cafe to finish it. ( )
  allisonneke | Dec 17, 2013 |
So Mr. Moser does the Lispector biography which I plan on reading soon as it arrives in my waiting hands, but then I read this here thing that Moser himself translated and he is making his comments of gushing praise for it saying that the book was the very first exposure he had to Lispector's genius and I am at the very same time finding myself getting a little bit sick to my stomach with all this loving on her, though I do realize she was beautiful in a Marlene Dietrich sort of way, and I also know her writing has been compared to Virginia Woolf and all that, and it makes it even more enticing for me in a sexy sort of way, but gees oh peaty it doesn't seem at all fair when I am smack in the middle of this The Hour of the Star affair and thinking this novel isn't any good and she is writing as she goes and she hasn't a clue for where she is going anyway and she is doing far too much talking out loud and saying too much about what a bore this writing is and how she does or doesn't like her characters and I am agreeing with her all the way even though the narrator speaking is supposed to be a man who for some reason sounds like Clarice herself if you want to know the truth of what I think about it all. Moser is lucky I gave this book even one star, but then, did I even have a choice in the matter? It's not like I could give it a half or even a quarter. "I didn't like it" is my honest rating. So there. Also proves I am not much of an expert when it comes to what I should like, but I know what it is when I see it. ( )
1 vote MSarki | Jun 5, 2013 |
I finished reading this book late at night, just before going to sleep, which may have been a bad idea. Whether this was directly related to my subsequent bad dreams or not I do not know for sure - but I did dream that a friend of mine had been given 91 days to live; and then I woke at 3am and faced my own mortality with all the padding torn off. All the day since has been grey and sad. If these things and the reading of The Hour of the Star aren't related, then it is something of a coincidence - because this is a cruel, bleak little book, for all its extraordinary language (and, may I say, its bright florescent cover).

When she woke up she no longer knew who she was. Only later did she think with satisfaction: I'm a typist and a virgin and I like coca-cola. Only then did she dress herself in herself, she spent the rest of her day obediently playing the role of being.

My experience of postmodernism is limited, but I do believe this is an example of it, with experimental (though as it repeatedly reminds us, simple and unadorned) language, and very little by way of plot. Metafictive too, being written by a male narrator - Lispector herself is a woman - who is terrified of his own story, because it brings home to him (explosion) all too plainly the emptiness and pointlessness of his own life. It's self-conscious of necessity, but done rather exquisitely for all that. This narrator has seen briefly in the street a young typist from the northeast, a girl who has no idea she's alive - a nonentity of a girl without any real thoughts, or hopes, or happiness, and who has no idea that she's even unhappy. The sight of this girl has torn the padding off the narrator's life too, and he must write her story down to purge himself of its horror.

...there are thousands of girls scattered across the tenement slums... They don't even know how easily substitutable they are and that they could just drop off the face of the earth.

The real pathos of it is that Macabea is simply a girl without any opportunities. She has an insatiable fascination with the facts she hears on Clock Radio, but no one to talk to about it. When she once hears Caruso sing on that radio, she cries, which she's never done before.

She wasn't crying because of the life she led: because, never having led any other, she'd accepted that with her that was just the way things were. But I also think she was crying because, through the music, she might have guessed there were other ways of feeling, there were more delicate existences and even a certain luxury of soul.

She collects ads and pastes them in an album. She is sensuous and doesn't know what to do with it, and sometimes kisses the wall (that last image was one of the more painful ones).

And just as soon as an experience comes which teaches her how to live, how to hope, she dies - and though this happens at the end I do not consider it a spoiler (apologies if you disagree) - because it's almost inevitable, and certainly the only possible 'happy' ending. Her death is the hour of the star. As for her life, it only serves to point to that idea of the uselessness of people's lives in general, and makes the reader feel for a time that this is practically universal. As I said, a cruel, bleak little book.

What was the truth of my Maca? As soon as you discover the truth it's already gone: the moment passed. I ask: what is? Reply: it's not.

A word on the translator - brilliant work, I think. It's always hard as a reader to know which of the good and bad is due to the translator - but it's clear that Benjamin Moser had an original text of great unusualness and difficulty to work from, and he translates it here with a blend of oddness, simplicity and power which I suspect is all there in the original Portuguese.
10 vote ChocolateMuse | Mar 28, 2013 |
Our narrator, Rodrigo S.M., is writing a story about a young woman named Macabea, a typist from northeastern Brazil who has migrated to Rio; she is poor and ugly and has nothing going for her.

This novella has a postmodern flavor, with the narrator-writer being very much a part of the story, and he very conscious of his creation even when its inevitability is running away with him and he's sick of his characters. I tend to find this type of story admirable but not enjoyable (I prefer a more traditional, linear narrative that I can sink into and "believe" for a short while instead of being constantly reminded of the fact that it's a story). Words and language were so important in the short narrative that I couldn't help but wonder how much of the nuance I was missing for reading it in English. Recommended if you enjoy experimental writing. ( )
  bell7 | Feb 17, 2013 |
Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabea, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabea 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, Macabea 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. [Book Depository]
3 vote LASC | Nov 20, 2012 |
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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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Epigraph
Clarice stirs in the greater depths, where the world finds its true meaning, portraying mankind.
('Vision of Clarice Lispector')
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Dedication
For Olga Borelli
First words
Everything in the world began with a yes.
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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