The passion according to G.H by Clarice Lispector
Original title – A Paixão segundo G.H.
Translator – Idra Novey
Source – personnel copy
When you ate,
I saw your eyelashes.
Saw them shake like
wind on rushes.
In the cornfield,
when she called me
Moths surround me.
Thought they’d drown me.
And I miss your precious heart.
Dried rose petals —
redbrown circles —
framed your eyes and
stained your knuckles.
I choose this lyric from Joanna Newsom for those first two-lines anyone that read this book will know what I mean ,also Joanna Newsom new album out soon
A couple of years ago Amanda brought me two Lispector Near to the wild heart and hour of the star , I read Near to the wild heart straight away loved it that much , I went out a few days later and brought this the another of the four Lispector books penguin had brought out at the time .So with the chance to read her collected short stories that are coming out soon .Lispector was a brazilian writer , she was born in Ukraine her family came to Brazil and then when she married she travelled the world with her husband whom was a diplomat ,before returning to Brazil and began writing , this book was midway in her career .
That was when the cockroach began to emerge .
First the heralding quiver of its antennae .
Then , behind those dry stands , the reluctant body started to emerge until nearly all of it reached the opening of the wardrobe door .
It was brown , it hesitant as if of enormus wieght .It was now almost entirely visible
The roach appears to G.H
Well where does one start with this book ? it’s a monologue told by a women , this woman is the same one as the G.H of the title . G.H has entered her maid’s room , clean clinical white room , in which she sees this black cockroach after finding it in the wardrobe .She then decides to kill the roach , setting of a shocking reaction with in G.H herself as she watches the insect die cause a strange nightmare like state in her as she questions what she did . All this happened the day before and G.h is reflecting on what happened .
Because inside myself I saw what hell is like .
Hell is the mouth that bites and eats the living flesh with its blood , and the one being eaten howls with delight in his eye: hell is pain as delight of the matter , and with the laughter of delight , the tears run in pain .And the tear comes from the laughter of pain is the opposite of redemption .I was seeing the inexorability of the roach with its ritual mask .
G.H later in the book seems to drift into a spirit world of her own .
Now a brief description for this is one from the heart of modernism like a distant cousin to the world of Virginia Woolf , it is easy to see why the two are often mentioned in the same breath .Like Mrs Dalloway Woolf’s book , this takes place of the course of a day . Woolf also touched in other books like this does on mental health issues , you feel G.H is a woman who has more to her than we are told and certain of her actions within this book lead you to think , she may have been in the middle of a breakdown the day she is describing .This book shows why we maybe need more woman in translation to find the effect of woman writing in english has had on female writers around the world we often miss the influence of english writers but I feel in Lispector it is clear to see how drawn she must have been as a writer to the Modernist movement , she was writing in the 60’s so would be able to have read the great voices of modernism .It is easy to see G.H as a character as a woman trying to break maybe the female bonds as the act she does cause her to think why she does it ? A book that will leave you reeling for a good while after you put it down . I can’t wait to read her short stories now , the complete collection will include all eight collections she wrote in her lifetime .
Have you read Lispector ?