Clarice Lispector: Selected Crônicas
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
Publisher: New Directions (1996)
The chronicle, a literary genre peculiar to the Brazilian press, allows poets and novelists to address a wide readership on any theme they like. Lispector’s Saturday column from 1967 to 1973 in Rio’s leading newspaper, the Jornal do Brasil, was even by Brazilian standards extraordinarily free-ranging and intimate—astonishingly so to readers of US newspapers. The 156 crônicas collected here (variously taking the form of serialized stories, essays, aphorisms, conversations with taxi drivers, random thoughts, introspective revelations, memories) are endlessly delightful. Her insights make one sit up and think, whether about pets or children or society women or love or the business of writing.
"In 1967, Brazil's leading newspaper asked the avant-garde writer Lispector to write a weekly column on any topic she wished. For almost seven years, Lispector showed Brazilian readers just how vast and passionate her interests were. This beautifully translated collection of selected columns, or crônicas, is just as immediately stimulating today and ably reinforces her reputation as one of Brazil's greatest writers. Indeed, these columns should establish her as being among the era's most brilliant essayists. She is masterful, even reminiscent of Montaigne, in her ability to spin the mundane events of life into moments of clarity that reveal greater truths."
"If she played with the superficial truth, it was in service, she believed, of exposing one deeper, of passing readers a brief-lit lantern for the moonless dark of ourselves, even if that light revealed, sometimes, more contradiction, more chaos, more flittering soul-storm. Her crônicas blurred lines between genre—some are like little Zen koans, some lyrical reminiscences, while others, like 'Return to Nature,' are harder to categorize, reading like parables or flash fiction. At times, they also muddied demarcations between nonfiction and fiction, resurrecting the oldest question of form: Where does nonfiction truly end and fiction begin, and what do we do with texts where we do not know the answer?"
–The Paris Review