The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

The Hour of the Star was published in 1977, shortly after the author’s death. My dear friend Janakay gifted me this title among other books, many short ones she read following her interest in books recommended, and since reading short books lends itself to meeting new authors.

I’m very glad she compelled me to read this book as well. I took my time to read it, to immerse myself in the story. I read a Goodreads review that said we shouldn’t write about it, just read it. Yes. This book is mesmerizing. Wikipedia says that this slim volume will attract lovers of philosophical fiction. It echoes other books in my reader’s memory, such as Fog -or Midst- by Unamuno, another philosophical fiction title. But I still considering very unique, -at least, I have no register of anything like it-. I’m glad Janakay shared with me. I’m surprised at how much punch it packs.

The strange or different way of writing the book offers was felt. I don’t know, but maybe knowing that the book was atypical or didn’t follow a more traditional form, I never thought that the strangeness was due to the translation or anything like it. It’s good to notice that it’s a deliberate and characteristic way of writing that Lispector had. I will speculate and say it may serve a purpose, as it makes you pay more attention, or it never lets you take this story for granted. Without this healthy tension or dissonance, we may not take an interest to Macabea and her life.

Sometimes I think the more I talk about books the more I complicate what I want to share 🙂 My reviews are ways of making sense of what I’ve read. I wish to share my experience with you, friends, or audience, I like to pay homages to the writers, offer nods of admiration to their work, or the occasional reprove. With The Hour of the Star, I do wish to exhort you to read it if you haven’t yet.

This book was adapted into film in 1985, and it’s found on YouTube. I want to watch it in detail. This film may capture some of the feel and ideas of the book, but I’ll treat it separate, interesting in itself, an independent artistic product. The movie is obviously old and filmed in Brazil, and it’s appealing to experience a moment in history where there was not much technology through it. Time and space shown in it are fascinating, language and interactions very different to our current times. There’s a slower pace, and attention to faces and wordless interactions.

Both book and film are intriguing, different, provoking, and completely worth experiencing.

11 thoughts on “The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

  1. Ok. That is good to hear. I struggled with Mrs. Dalloway. I then tried to read The Waves and DNF’d it.

  2. Not to me. I couldn’t finish To the Lighthouse -she lost me in form and content-,but I loved and appreciated this thin one so much.

  3. I think you could read it ten times, and still find something new! Middlemarch is like that, but Middlemarch is a door stopper of a book, while Star is what? 95 pages or so? I’ve actually amassed a small Lispector collection, including her collected short stories, and am really getting curious about them. Maybe later this summer, if I can get myself going again . . . .
    What are you reading these days? I’ve read a bit of junk, a couple of Middlebrow novels by Margery Sharp and am towards the end of an Elizabeth Taylor novel . . .

  4. I definitely agree with your experience of reading a few pages at a time and the spiritual nature of the tale. It was strange or different, and it elevated or humanized the very deprived life of Macabea. She had a deep philosophical approach to her existence or it’s narrated that way. It stays with you.
    Thanks for the link. I enjoy all the articles and things you find around books and authors.
    We should read it again. I am sure we find more things that second time.

  5. So glad you enjoyed this book, Silvia (and thanks for the shoutout). I’ve been interested in Lispector’s work since I read a review of her short stories in the NY Times some time back, but it’s taken me years & years to get around to actually reading any of it! (if you’re interested here’s the NYT piece: I do think a Kaggsy review may have given me the needed shove, but at this point I can’t quite remember.
    I did love Hour of the Star, that strange and beautiful book. Although I normally read pretty quickly, like you I took my time with one; in fact, I found it almost physically impossible to read more than a few pages at a time. I’m still not sure what to make of it — as you say, it lingers in the mind. I think I saw it as a very spiritual tale, in a way, or at least see this as one meaning. Lispector shows the beauty and goodness in this very humble life and how it transcended the ugliness and cruelty of the world around it. Given the ending, perhaps she was also showing how we can’t transcend our fate? Anyway, this is definitely one to read again!

  6. Same here. I think Janakay may have gotten this book because of your review of it. I am glad she sent it to me.

  7. Pingback: Ongoing Reading Log | Silvia Cachia

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