Near to the Wild Heart (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Near to the Wild Heart (Penguin Modern Classics)

Near to the Wild Heart (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Narrative epiphanies and interior monologue frame the life of Joana, from her middle-class childhood through her unhappy marriage and its dissolution to transcendence, when she proclaims: "I shall arise as strong and comely as a young colt. I have a half-written post on Play It As It Lays (well, it’s closer to a series of notes at this stage), and there is something of a connection between Maria and Joana.

Lispector is worth considering, and I have another to try (The Hour of the Star), but Near to the Wild Heart is not going to be to everyone’s taste. I will surpass myself in waves, ah, Lord, and may everything come and fall upon me, even the incomprehension of myself at certain white moments because all I have to do is comply with myself and then nothing will block my path until death-without-fear, from any struggle or rest I will rise up as strong and beautiful as a young horse. In that case, only a short, heartfelt 'Thank You' can be directed towards the said book and its respected author. Well, I would be very curious to hear your thoughts on this book (and Lispector in general) if you decide to go for it.There is a naturalness and spontaneity about the writing that makes the many impossibilities in the text possible.

The book’s title and epigraph come from James Joyce’s novel, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, but Lispector only discovered Joyce once she had finished writing Near. I agree, there’s a real sense of energy in her writing, flashes of brilliance at times, but I just found the narrative itself hard to hold on to. The prize was a confirmation of what the Folha Carioca had discovered earlier that year when it asked its readers to elect the best novel of 1943. Joana believes that it is impossible to ever put into words the feelings she experiences - since doing so will transform them into something other: the most curious thing is that the moment I try to speak not only do I fail to express what I feel but what I feel slowly becomes what I say. Happy and flat I wait for myself, I wait for myself to slowly rise up and truly appear before my eyes.

With this in mind, what better place to start than her debut novel, Near to the Wild Heart, first published in 1943 when Lispector was just twenty-three years old?

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