Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Near to the wild heart

Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Brazilian fiction

Original Title –  Perto do coração selvagem

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – personnel copy


He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.”
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man via goodreads also inspired the title for this book .

Well it’s nearly here the world cup in Brazil ,so for the next couple of post I’ll be reviewing a couple of Brazilian ,this the first is a cornerstone of Brazilian literature from the most well-known writer of her generation Clarrice Lispector .I had long wanted to read Lispector but inertially when I started blogging ,there wasn’t any in my library system ,then New directions brought out this and four others in us and in Uk on import but then heard Penguin was doing a uk version  ,that I am reading in the Uk penguin Editions .Clarice Lispector was born in Russia and with her family escaped the aftermath of world war one ,the family settled in Brazil .She was studying and working as a journalist on the side when she wrote this book her debut novel .It was translated once before but this is the latest translation from 2012 .

“Daddy , what shall I do ?”

“I already told you : go play and leave me be !”

“But I’ve played ,I swear ”

Her father laughed

“But there’s no end to playing …”

“Yes there is >”

“Make up another game ”

I thought this conversation when I was looking after my nieces just yesterday , kids hey !


So near to the wild heart is a modernist piece of fiction (I know some people cringe at that word , but for me it always seem to me something challenging or innovative ) .The book is the story of Joana ,her life is told in snippets in the stream of consciousness style ,from her as a youngster, whom is  beguiled with her father telling herself poems about him ,through growing up temper tantrums ,her marriage to a man with a wandering eye , the book has an episodic feel at times as we jump in and out of Joana’s life the good ,the bad .She is called a strange creature by family members and through her thoughts and emotions  as we read them comes across a  a women ill at ease and very complexed .

The dense ,dark night was cut down the middle split into two black blocks of sleep .Where was she ? Between the piece s, looking at them (the one she had already slept and the one had yet to sleep ) isolated in the timeless and spaceless in an empty gap .This stretch would be subtracted from her years of life .

I felt this could have easily come from Marquez the feel of her words remind me of his descriptions and magic realism .

Now this just knocked me back ,I still can’t believe she was 23 when she wrote this book ,especially in the passages when Joana is older  married .Her writing mixes, the best of European modernism but with a shot of Latin american Heat and Humidity at times ,its hard to describe yes of course  its stream of consciousness but that is banded about so much but the book for me  evokes ,James Joyce ,at times the early Joana  parts of her life reminds me of Stephen Dedalus in a portrait of artist as a young man  describing his childhood ,but later on I felt more of Virginia Woolf, Lispector does a similar thing to Woolf in books like Miss Dalloway when she captures Joana disappoint in her marriage and husband .I choose this of the two Lispector books my wife brought me the other being Hour of the star ,but now I feel maybe I want to read her books in order to she her development as a writer .A must for fans of a strong female voice ,Modernism and wanting during the world cup to discover a bit about Brazil and its culture .

Have you read Lispector ?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Max Cairnduff
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:21:25

    I haven’t read Lispector yet, but I absolutely plan to. She seems a really interesting writer, as you say.

    What other Brazilian authors are you planning to read Stu?


  2. Rebecca
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:49:45

    I remember being bowled over by Cambio de armas twenty years ago, but I admit I haven’t read anything by her that wasn’t assigned for class.


  3. Martha
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 17:28:50

    I really liked Soulstorm, a collection of 29 short pieces (some very short it’s only has 175 pages).


  4. jacquiwine
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 18:05:50

    I haven’t read any of Lispector’s books yet, but I have two on the shelves here: Hour of the Star and The Passion According to G.H. I couldn’t resist them in their lovely Penguin livery.


  5. Annabel (gaskella)
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 18:07:42

    Having explored her for my Brazilian article(!) I fear she is not for me, but she is a fascinating woman though.


  6. Trackback: #bookaday 10 reminds me of someone I love | Winstonsdad's Blog
  7. Col
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 07:12:55

    I read Near To The Wild Heart earlier this year after a review copy was sent to me. I didn’t find it the easiest of reads because there is such an intensity to it in places. I did enjoy the book, though if I’m honest I didn’t find it easy to say exactly why – in fact I think I actually admitted that when I reviewed it! I’ve got Passion According to GH on my shelves, but having read Lispector once, I think she’s one of those authors I need to be in the right mood for to really appreciate (and again I can’t articulate what that mood is but I’ll know it when it happens – I think!)


  8. roughghosts
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 05:51:10

    Running a bit behind here but this is an author I had not heard of until recently. Quick probably obvious question, but this is the Lispector title to start with?


  9. Trackback: Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector | JacquiWine's Journal

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June 2014


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