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The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

by Clarice Lispector

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

Is it possible that actions exceed words? As I write—let things be known by their real names. Each thing is a word. And when there is no word, it must be invented. (1.26)

So, Clarice Lispector's presence isn't very subtle here, since you know, she's actually the one doing the writing. And she seems to be getting pretty worked up about whether or not it's actually possible to represent things (of a three-dimensional, real world) on a two-dimensional page.

Quote #8

No, it is not easy to write. It is as hard as breaking rocks. Sparks and splinters fly like shattered steel. (1.32)

Okay, so writing isn't literally as hard as breaking rocks. Seriously, just ask anyone who's had to do hard manual labor for a living. But it's not easy—even for professional writers.

Quote #9

I am scared of starting. I do not even know the girl's name. It goes without saying that this story drives me to despair because it is too straightforward. What I propose to narrate sounds easy and within everyone's grasp. But its elaboration is extremely difficult. I must render clear something that is almost obliterated and can scarcely be deciphered. With stiff, contaminated fingers I must touch the invisible in its own squalor. (1.33)

It seems like it should be easy to write about a poor girl, but let's count the problems: (1) no story is ever really straightforward; (2) how do you write about something that people have basically willed themselves to ignore?; (3) this isn't a story just about Macabéa's life, but a story about all the complex societal problems that have led to her misery. Yeah, sounds pretty difficult to us.

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