The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector

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But “The Chandelier” is uniquely demanding — it’s baggy, claggy and contentedly glacial. We get interior monologues and barometric readings of the drifting moods of a young, unhappy woman named Virginia.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Now, for the first time in English we have Clarice Lispector’s second novel—a radical part of what made her a Brazilian legend


Fresh from the enormous success of her debut novel Near to the Wild Heart, Hurricane Clarice let loose something stormier with The Chandelier. In a body of work renowned for its potent idiosyncratic genius, The Chandelier in many ways has pride of place. “It stands out,” her biographer Benjamin Moser noted, “in a strange and difficult body of work, as perhaps her strangest and most difficult book.” Of glacial intensity, consisting almost entirely of interior monologues—interrupted by odd and jarring fragments of dialogue and action—the novel moves in slow waves that crest in moments of revelation. As Virginia seeks freedom via creation, the drama of her isolated life is almost entirely internal: from childhood, she sculpts clay figurines with “the best clay one could desire: white, supple, sticky, cold. She got a clear and tender material from which she could shape a world. How, how to explain the miracle ...” While on one level simply the story of a woman’s life, The Chandelier’s real drama lies in Lispector’s attempt “to find the nucleus made of a single instant ... the tenuous triumph and the defeat, perhaps nothing more than breathing.” The Chandelier pushes Lispector’s lifelong quest for that nucleus into deeper territories than any of her other amazing works.
 

About Clarice Lispector

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Clarice Lispector (1925-1977), the author of such works as Near to the Wild Heart, The Hour of the Star, and The Passion According to G. H., is the internationally acclaimed novelist and short-story writer from Brazil and the subject of Benjamin Moser's magisterial biography Why This World. The son of Brazilian immigrants, Johnny Lorenz teaches at Montclair State University and received a Fulbright for his work in Brazilian literature. Series editor Benjamin Moser, who contributes afterwords for all four of these new translations, is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, due out in paperback from Oxford University Press in May 2012. He also just completed a new translation of Lispector's The Hour of the Star.
 
Published March 27, 2018 by New Directions. 304 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Chandelier
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 24 2017

While she compellingly evokes the journey out of childhood, as well as loneliness, self-determination, and the magnetic pull of family, Lispector's signature brilliance lies in the minutely observed gradations of her characters' feelings and of their elusive, half-formed thoughts.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Martin Riker on Jun 08 2018

Then there are the novel’s final scenes, which I will not describe except to say that they contain some of Lispector’s loveliest writing, and offer a kind of resolution that leaves all of Virgínia’s mystery intact.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Parul Sehgal on Mar 27 2018

But “The Chandelier” is uniquely demanding — it’s baggy, claggy and contentedly glacial. We get interior monologues and barometric readings of the drifting moods of a young, unhappy woman named Virginia.

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Lily Meyer on Apr 05 2018

That's how I suggest reading The Chandelier. Pretend you're Virgínia. Don't interpret. Just let yourself run along and get lost.

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