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Near to the Wild Heart (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Her question resonates with my childhood memories of the fairytale endings: “And they lived happily ever after …” - those optimistic words were never explained, the reader was never introduced to the concept of HOW happiness would be achieved, forever after - that most vital part of the eternal question always left unanswered.

The Hogarth Press where I’m working, is in the heart of the literary world, with authors coming in all the time. If I bought this, I’d stay on the shelf for ages because I’d never feel ready to engage in such a challenging read.

Marina Sofia – There was enough here to make me try another one, but there were a couple of points where it was a bit of a slog. Last year I read another dazzling debut by a twenty-three-year-old, Nada by Carmen Laforet, which I much preferred to Near to the Wild Heart. Clarice shook me out of my somnolent contentment and pulled me into a mirror house of transcendental imagery, leaving me trapped among reflections of illusion of the contorted self, standing at the elusive frontier between reality and imagination, between the physical and the mental, among a shadow cast of flickering thoughts like the flame of a candle, dully luminous and coldly pale, yet with the power to burn the complacent moth into nonexistence. Stranger, with wild animal inside her, always diffrent from others, distant, hidden behind own dreams. You can unsubscribe from our list at any point by changing your preferences, or contacting us directly.

In spite of Lispector's apparently foreign-sounding Portuguese (she was born in the Ukraine) which the translator has translated into slightly foreign-sounding English, the author somehow succeeds in conveying the truth and meaning of Joana's conflicting emotions to the reader. If the twinkling of the stars pains me, if this distant communication is possible, it is because something almost like a star quivers within me.Now – only later, the tray of ice cubes again and there you are staring at it in fascination, watching the droplets of water already trickling. It is known in English as ‘Near to the Wild Heart’, from the book’s epigraph, which is from Joyce’s ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. As it follows Joana's life from childhood through unhappy marriage and beyond, it seems fairly straightforward. Great review – I remember this being a fairly challenging read (thanks for the link) – and that was in the context of the year I spent only reading experimental fiction!

Joana, the book's character, understands that it is eternal in her continuous thinking, and she gets tired of it several times. The sleeper lounge is old-fashioned British Rail, all tartan carpet, smeared tables and microwave cuisine. Clarice Lispector's first novel, Near to the Wild Heart, was published in 1944, when its author was only nineteen years old.Joana’s thoughts linger over questions of life, death, solitude, freedom and happiness which are themes that Lispector continues to explore in her later works. Thank you for this Stefanie – I knew that it was a mistake not to read the bio along with the fiction.

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