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The Passion According to G.H. (1964)
by Clarice Lispector
No current Talk conversations about this book.
i'm sure it says more about me than about this book but i have no idea what i just read. i loved the last 2 pages, which are the translator's note, but can't agree with her about the worthiness of this novel. to be fair, this is the sort of thing that i've found i generally dislike and that i think just isn't for me. there were a few lines throughout that seemed very poetic and lyrical, but this was a really weird, largely indecipherable book to me. maybe i'm just not prepared to read philosophy in a stream of consciousness presentation. ( )
Don't expect a systematic review of this book from me, however brief it may be. Also a synthesis is not possible, because there is hardly a story line in it. It was clearly an overwhelming reading experience for me, as is apparent from the exceptionally high rating to my standards. The Brazilian writer Lispector (1920-1977) offers a disjointed internal monologue of a woman who is apparently undergoing a deep existential experience; I can't put it more concisely than that. The sentences follow each other in an almost opaque manner, with constant contradictions and paradoxes, and references to situations and persons that cannot always be placed. Deep philosophical and existential musings about the universe, God, death, love, and so on, alternate with horrific acts and surrealistic performances, which are mainly triggered by the discovery of a cockroach. I was especially touched by the apt description of the universe (and therefore also God) as indifferent/neutral, a process of dehumanization that is seen by the story telling protagonist as a liberating experience, culminating in a vitalistic confession.
These few reviewing lines really don’t do justice to this book, I know, so I’ll throw in some references that were perhaps not consciously intended by Lispector (in her autobiographical book 'The Discovery of the World' she indicates that she hardly read other 'great' books): Fyodor Dostoevsky, Samuel Beckett, Virigina Woolf, Frans Kafka, etc., all these great ones come to mind as you read this intriguing text. For me – but every reader will probably see something different in it – I experienced this book essentially as a process of purification, of a (Brazilian) woman in a midlife crisis, exposing fundamental existential truths. I'm sure I'll return to this book to deepen the mind-blowing reading experience it offers.
If you want stream of consciousness, introspection, metaphysical pondering, imagination and creativity this is a book for you. A woman enters a room a servant has just left permanently and never leaves it for the entire book. No plot, no dialogue, lots and lots of thoughts. The only other "participant" is a cockroach which, spoiler alert, she crushes with a door. But it persists , and persists, and persists. She thinks about her life and, of course, the cockroach's. If you're looking for escapism, adventure, a journey, take a pass. Not my cup of tea, or even coffee, definitely not ice cream.
Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEQG8txI_EM
For me this is a 3.5 - 3.7 star book. I think there was a time in my 20s where it would have blown me away with its philosophical and existential themes. A thinking persons book written in an unique and effective style.
But now sometimes I just want a good story, with less descriptions of a roach.
I can really be a philistine.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
A disoriented and confused young woman looks back on her life and her place in the world."
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)869.3 — Literature Spanish and Portuguese Portuguese Portuguese fiction
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