Near to the Wild Heart (Penguin Modern Classics)
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The last quote should give you a feel for the ‘stream’ style – ‘stream’ is not usually my favourite style, but it works very well here.The originality of Near to the Wild Heart lies in its technique and language: self-conscious, bleakly humorous, but poetic – "The sun burst through the clouds and the little sparkles scintillating on the waters were tiny fires flaring up and dying out. As Joana, endlessly mutable, moves through different emotional states, different inner lives and different truths, this impressionistic, dreamlike and fiercely intelligent novel asks if any of us ever really know who we are. The last time we see her she is standing on the deck of a ship, looking out to sea and loving her freedom, her choice and her newly found serenity: “The ship floated lightly on the sea like on gentle open hands.
After the death of her father, Joana drifts through her days, living only in the present but oblivious to daily circumstance. It would be hard to say that Joana is more human (I’m not sure that’s possible…), but she’s certainly a more rounded character than is the case towards the end of the first part. The bio I am working my way through mentions that Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf was a big influence and a philosopher whose name currently escapes me but I want to say Schopenhauer. He steered it to the book-publishing wing of their employer, A Noite, where it appeared with a bright pink cover, typical for books by women, in December 1943. It is also her first novel, and the rest of her books would go on to experiment with this exact form.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’. The tunnel is deep, but how do we know what we have if we become accustomed to the darkness of unconsciousness? Intriguing review – I have a Lispector on my shelf (not this one) that I’ve picked up and put down again several times because it wasn’t the right time for something challenging. While I was reading this book, I wondered what title Lispector would have picked for the work she described as a groping in the darkness - if the choice had been hers - and I figured that the words 'night' and 'sleep' might have been involved.
The novel also contains a number of philosophical passages: Joana’s meditations on the nature of eternity, a sense of immortality vs. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life , it is Joycean Stephen Dedalus in his quest of own identity. From a young age, Joana demonstrates a capacity for free thinking and for dazzling those who come into contact with her. Giovanni Pontiero (1932-1996) was the ablest translator of twentieth century literature in Portuguese and one of its most ardent advocates.Somehow -judging from your review and from others I’ve read – I think I’ll appreciate her but won’t love her. This new translation of Clarice Lispector's sensational first book tells the story of a middle class woman's life from childhood through an unhappy marriage and its dissolution to transcendence.