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Working Papers in Romance Languages

Abstract

How does one state in words the impossibility of writing? How does one translate an author who has depicted herself as silent in the very text? The Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector dares to do so. From Agua viva, one of her first novels, to Un soplo de vida, her posthumous work, Lispector enters into an egotistic self-referential movement. She dares to speak from her work, from herself, from art, and from literature, thus mixing realities of different dimensions and erasing borders between life and letter. In Agua viva Lispector interrogates the causes and effects of the writing process in order to know it, to govern it. There, she begins to experience revelatory and joyful epiphanies that later, in Un soplo de vida, become mystical. However, the tone of this later text is quite different. There, her writing presages a forthcoming silence, and because of that the illusion of apprehending knowledge by language fades as it becomes certain of the impossible...

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