Sunday, February 26, 2017

This book is like any other book

I was feeling torn about what to read next, so I let the cat decide.

Rosie says, quite emphatically, paws down: The Passion According to G.H., by Clarice Lispector.

It opens with a note "To Possible Readers":
This book is like any other book. But I would be happy if it were only read by people whose souls are already formed.
This concerns me a little. I hope I'll be OK.

Lispector again blipped across my radar this week in a bookclub discussion of Pola Oloixarac's Savage Theories, when someone speculated whether there might be an intentional reference to The Passion in this passage:
A cockroach scuttled along the edge of the room. [...] I gave the order for Montaigne Michelle to set her ambush . . . Now! She purred toothily. The individual in question (a Blatella germanica) came forward a meter or so: Montaigne put it down with a single swipe of her paw. Flat on its back, its abdomen contracted in pain, the cockroach bent its antennae toward us. I believe that it sensed the formidable presence of its motionless adversary — perhaps, too, that of the impromptu Thucydides who sat nearby taking notes. Finally it managed to get back on its feet. And here is where this domestic tableau takes on transcendental dimensions: it was at this moment that, overawed by such brutality, irresistibly attracted to a power far superior to her own, the scene's victim advanced voluntarily toward the Predator, and bowed down to her, in a sign of Reverence.
Fittingly, it seems Lispector's novel offered itself up to the beast to be devoured in a similar way.

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