Tuesday, January 15, 2013

responsible for the entire world

In one of her "Cronicas,"(on the recommended reading shelf above) Clarice Lispector describes a painting of an annunciation. "Those wings are quite human: they appear to be made of flesh and the angels's face is that of a man." She goes on:

"This is the most exquisite and harrowing truth the world has to offer."

"All human beings experience annunciation. With pregnant souls we raise our hands to our throats with surprise and anguish. As if each of us had learned at a given moment in life that we have a mission to fulfill."

"That mission is by no mean easy: each of us is responsible for the entire world."  

Can you imagine the strength it would have taken to write that simple line? For to write such a thing, is to see it through. Is to ever after write with the annunciatory angel at your side. To write with a pregnant soul. In a delicate and powerful state. Fierce and at times naive.

In A Breath of Life, her last book, she would write:

"For anything can happen and damage the most intimate life of a person. What will have been done to my soul next year? Will that soul have grown? and grown peacefully or through the pain of doubt?"

Those of us who have read Clarice, is there not the feeling that we are responsible for the soul of the work? One doesn't read her books, so much as live them.


  1. Once again--your selection of a passage from a writer I don't know has taken my breath away.
    The worst thing in my like that didn't involve losing someone, was losing 30 years of quotations in a commonplace book--the most perfect words for the all but ineffable sensations of living. (I guess it was losing the fleeting scraps of myself pinned down by those writers.) I'd have included this.

  2. THank you both. Clarice really is the most wonderful writer.


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