Near to the wild heart

by Clarice Lispector

Paper Book, 1990





New York : New Directions, 1990.


Near to the Wild Heart, published in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, introduced Brazil to what one writer called "Hurricane Clarice": a twenty-three-year-old girl who wrote her first book in a tiny rented room and then baptized it with a title taken from Joyce: "He was alone, unheeded, near to the wild heart of life." The book was an unprecedented sensation -- the discovery of a genius. Narrative epiphanies and interior monologue frame the life of Joana, from her middle-class childhood through her unhappy marriage and its dissolution to transcendence, when she proclaims: "I shall arise as strong and comely as a young colt."

User reviews

LibraryThing member heroineinabook
This is beyond exquisite. I injected half the book in one sitting and had stop because I was getting woozy on a Lispector overdose. She adroitly does things to language and words, even in translation from Portuguese to English that is just breathtaking. I am having trouble reconciling that it was published in 1943 as it reads so contemporary. Reading Lispector is breathing flames under the muse for me and I’m reconsidering how to write fiction.

I’m terrible at fiction. I always feel so damned constricted when trying to form the rules of the game, my writing comes out halting and unsure. I’ve got brilliant ideas for stories, I see the stories in my head as they are played out but getting them onto paper? No. The ease of my language sounds immature and protracted. Sure, you could argue if I practice more it would mature and grow and there is some truth into that. But I think because I’ve been reading tightly bound prose for so long, I’m near drunk on Lispector’s stream of consciousness and realising that yes, this is how you do it. This is how you give birth to a story and how it will end.

Feral. Unstructured and messy, like life.
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LibraryThing member MSarki
A wonderful first trip into the Lispector interior. Amazing work for such a young woman. Lyrical and beautifully written. Easy to see the Hermann Hesse influences. I am not sure at all how she pulled this book off, but the sophistication was remarkable. It was a very slow read for me as I really was not interested in much of what was going on in it, but it was interesting for me to behold this Lispector power, unleashed and untamed.… (more)
LibraryThing member greegood
Elizabeth Bishop is described as "better than JL Borges"
LibraryThing member alanteder
There is a recent revival of interest in Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector's (1920-1977) work which includes biographies, new translations, new collections and now even audiobooks of the new translations such as this current 2018 Audible Audio edition of the 2nd (2012) translation of her first novel written in 1942 when she was first working as a journalist and then published to great acclaim in 1943.

I wish now that I had read this first prior to my actual introduction to her work in "The Complete Stories" where a lifespan of work in close to 80 stories covered many of the same themes of rebelliousness and yearning that were first captured in this early novel. It is still a revelation now though, especially knowing that she had not yet even read the stream of consciousness style works of Virginia Woolf and james Joyce (a quote from whose work "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" was suggested as the title to Lispector by her friend Lúcio Cardoso. The translation by Alison Entrekin flows smoothly and the narration by Rebecca Morris was excellent.
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LibraryThing member over.the.edge
Fantastic work of emotional resonance and depth. Her use of stream of consciousness to explain her past and present is wonderful. Encompassing the psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical sense of her emotional state made Joanna, the main character so accessible and easy to follow. I loved her descriptive style and brutal truth.… (more)
LibraryThing member greeniezona
Of course I'd known about Lispector for a while, and she was on my list of "authors I really know I should read someday," but I found something about the way people talked about her to be just a little bit... intimidating. But when I went on my Women in Translation Month shopping trip, this was the only recognizable woman in translation I found (in the new books section, anyway), so this is what I got. Appropriate it's the first book I read for Women in Translation Month this year.

I don't know what I was worried about. I was in love with the fierce and wild Joana from the very beginning. On the second page she announces to her father that she's made up a poem called "The Sun and I." "The hens in the yard have eaten the worms but I didn't see them." The surety in herself, the disappointment that her dad doesn't get it -- I adored her. As she grows, the richness of her introspective interiority only grows, as does her determination to not sway from whatever she feels to be right for herself. No matter what others might think is good or evil, normal or strange. How can you not root for a character like that, especially since everyone else seems simple, weak, conventional by comparison.

The book wanders a bit toward the end and I started to wonder where it was going, but it ended with the same fierce resolution it began with. A wonderful book, and I am glad to finally know what all the fuss over Lispector is about.
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
Near to the Wild Heart sucked me in and its unexpected palpations in the quiet suction, like bring stuck in a whirlpool of green, have lodged themselves into my heart, my brain, even maybe my calves. It's hard to read Lispector without holding my breath and each book of hers feels like a beautiful and terrible gift.


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