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Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector

Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector - Benjamin Moser Pedant warning: Moser is inordinately fond of the phrase "begs the question" which does not mean "to raise or pose the question" as he and his publisher (OUP?!) seem to think it does.

Be advised that if you like to approach a novel somewhat unspoiled, and haven't yet read Lispector's The Passion According to G.H. (where it could be argued a sense of surprise is part of that story's effect), it won't be enough to skip the chapter dealing with that book as he goes on to deliver one honking great spoiler repeatedly in many successive chapters.

I discovered Lispector's work earlier this year and had high hopes for this biography, but I kept feeling as if I had to peer around Moser to get at Lispector. I found his focus on the mystical, religious aspects of her writing to not quite do justice to other aspects of her writing such as the surrealism, and her work in context of time, place, gender and fellow writers.

He's on sturdier ground during the first half of the book describing her family background and her early life.

I'd give Lispector 5 stars as a writer, but only 3 for this bio as it's just not a very good appraisal of her work.