The Passion According to G.H- Clarice Lispector

“I am now going to tell you how I entered the inexpressive that was always my blind and secret search. How I entered whatever exists between the number one and the number two, how I saw the line of mystery and fire, and which is surreptitious line. A note exists between two notes of music, between two facts exists a fact, between two grains of sand no matter how close together there exists an interval of space, a sense that exists between senses- in the interstices of primordial matter is the line of mystery, and fire that is the breathing of the world, and the continual breathing of the world is what we hear and call silence.” — Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H.

This book was very intense. It follows the emotions and inner turmoil of a South American sculptress, G.H.,  when she, while in her former maid’s room, inadvertently slams the door on a cockroach and watches it slowly die.

I must admit that I was perplexed for the first few chapters. The book was a confusing inner monologue written after the cockroach was crushed. G.H.’s philosophical musings as she watches the cockroach die are fascinating, to say the least. It made me wonder how someone could react like that to a cockroach being killed. Perhaps it does make sense because anything, big or small, can trigger off self-reflection even if it doesn’t seem to be related. There were musings on love, identity, religion, journeys, into her past, flashbacks….

All G.H. experienced took place within a short time frame, all in one room, but it was somehow spread out over 200 pages. Although I haven’t read much Kafka, I would say that this book did have a Kafkaesque tone to it, especially towards the end. Lispector’s writing style is spellbinding and poetic. This is one of those books I would need to re-read in order to fully appreciate its brilliance.

Some quotes that I liked/found interesting:

  • “Suddenly, sitting there, a tiredness all hardened and without any lassitude, overtook me. A little more and it would petrify me.”
  • “That image of myself in quotes satisfied me, and not just superficially. I was the image of what I was not, and that image of not-being overwhelmed me.”“Sometimes- sometimes we ourselves manifest the inexpressive – one does that in art, in bodily love as well – to manifest the inexpressive is to create.”
  • “Could I be living, not the truth, but the myth of the truth?”
  • “Sometimes- sometimes we ourselves manifest the inexpressive – one does that in art, in bodily love as well – to manifest the inexpressive is to create.”
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