Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

A fascinating and mind and life, treated with love by a dedicated and skilled biographer. As much as one person can ever become expert in another, Moser has done so here, fully immersing himself in Lispector's history and interweaving it with her work, as those things, for her, were inseparable. Reading this book, I felt intimately connected to the life of a woman who died nearly a decade before I was born, in a country I've never visited. I gained a fresh, variegated understanding of her works, which I had already grown to love, and had thought I knew well -- overall, this was a delightful, surprising, and captivating reading experience.

— Sarah G.


"That rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf," Clarice Lispector is one of the most popular but least understood of Latin American writers. Now, after years of research on three continents, drawing on previously unknown manuscripts and dozens of interviews,
Benjamin Moser demonstrates how Lispector's development as a writer was directly connected to the story of her turbulent life. Born in the nightmarish landscape of post-World War I Ukraine, Clarice became, virtually from adolescence, a person whose beauty, genius, and eccentricity intrigued Brazil.
Why This World tells how this precocious girl, through long exile abroad and difficult personal struggles, matured into a great writer. It also asserts, for the first time, the deep roots in the Jewish mystical tradition that make her the true heir to Kafka as well as the unlikely author of "perhaps
the greatest spiritual autobiography of the twentieth century." From Chechelnik to Recife, from Naples and Berne to Washington and Rio de Janeiro, Why This World strips away the mythology surrounding this extraordinary figure and shows how Clarice Lispector transformed one woman's struggles into a
universally resonant art.

About the Author

Benjamin Moser is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and a contributor to the New York Review of Books and Cond� Nast Traveler. His translation of The Hour of the Star inaugurated New Directions' Clarice Lispector series, of which he is the Editor. He lives in the Netherlands.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780199895823
ISBN-10: 0199895821
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: May 1st, 2012
Pages: 479
Language: English