“Now that the affair is behind me, I can recollect it more serenely.”
This sentence opens up an early long story by Clarice Lispector, where a woman involves in an intense affair finds out what happens when things simply change one day. This story, from around 1950, feels like an early exploration of the end of passion, and not have the kind of judgment or consequential factors in it. This isn’t “Daisy Miller” or an Edith Wharton story, and it’s not there to exact punishment. Instead, it’s an exploration of an experience that is actually quite common, but often comes through with the intense American or European puritanism in many stories and novels. It reminds me a lot of my favorite Annie Ernaux writing, where she describes her own intense passion during an affair with an almost clinical fascination.
These stories represent about 35 or so years of writing. Like a lot of story writers, the various stories here represent a wide array of styles, language, plots, lack of plots, and fascinations. Lispector is Brazilian, but of Ukranian background, and there’s a curiousness about her stories as they seem to cross-over different elements from her hybrid cultural experience. She’s also writing in the post-war years, and that shift is also present here. I haven’t always enjoyed her novellas, which tend to be more singular explorations of a style and subject, because I really enjoy the variety that a collection like this brings. It’s a long book, and can be taken fast or slow, but there’s always something exciting coming.