The Hour of the Star

The Hour of the Star

Paperback(Second Edition)

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A new edition of Clarice Lispector’s final masterpiece, now with a vivid introduction by Colm Tóibín.

Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Colas, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid the realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly free/She doesn't seem to know how unhappy she should be. Lispector employs her pathetic heroine against her urbane, empty narrator—edge of despair to edge of despair—and, working them like a pair of scissors, she cuts away the reader's preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love and the art of fiction. In her last book she takes readers close to the true mystery of life and leave us deep in Lispector territory indeed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811219495
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 11/09/2011
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 116,924
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Clarice Lispector(1920–1977), the greatest Brazilian writer of the twentieth century, has been called “astounding” (Rachel Kushner), “a penetrating genius”
(Donna Seaman, Booklist), and “a truly remarkable writer” (Jonathan Franzen). “Her images dazzle even when her meaning is most obscure,” noted the Times Literary
Supplement, “and when she is writing of what she despises, she is lucidity itself.”

Benjamin Moser is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle award. At New Directions, he edits the new translation of Clarice Lispector's work, of which The Besieged City is the eighth volume. For promoting her work around the world, the Brazilian government awarded him the first State Prize in Cultural Diplomacy. A former books columnist at Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times Book Review, his latest book, Sontag: Her Life and Work, is published by Ecco Press.

Colm Tóibín is currently the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman professor of the humanities at
Columbia University and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the
University of Manchester.

What People are Saying About This

Katherine Boo

I felt physically jolted by genius.

Jonathan Franzen

A truly remarkable writer.

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The Hour of the Star 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is literally insane and well written. The book is a captivating story about a woman who has no point to life. The description of her ovaries 'like overcooked mushrooms' tell us this. The book is so random and will keep throwing surprises at you. I read the book with in a day. The book has like twelve possible titles when you open it. You cannot help, but adapt her style of writing.
Talbin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Hour of the Star, by Clarice Lispector, is a short novel (86 pages) exploding with ideas about creativity, art, spirituality, creation and philosophy. It is unlike any novel I've read before.The first one-third of the book features the narrator, Rodrigo S.M., telling the reader why it is so difficult to write the story he is about to tell. Once he finally tells his story - about the brief life of Macabea, an orphaned, rural girl come to the big city - the narrator continues to interrupt himself, commenting on the events and his ideas about what is happening. In The Hour of the Star, Lispector has created a many-layered tapestry. It is a book that can be read on many levels: as an indictment of poverty, the process of writing, the creation of art and perhaps life itself, the meaning of being human, the idea of spirituality and/or God, the meaning of The Word (on all incarnations). For me, right now, I read it as a discussion of the process of writing and the weight of creating a fictional world that reflects reality, as much as it can.I plan to read this again before I return it to the library because I know I've only begun to dig under the surface of Lispector's amazing prose.
solla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a very short novel, only about 80 pages long, and the story within it is shorter still as much of the beginning tells of the writer inventing the story (although the writer is also fictional, being a different gender than Lispector at least). One of the questions that I have for myself is whether I wouldn't like it better if it didn't have the self-consciousness of the writer in it. The first time through I was impatient with the beginning, which goes on for 10 pages or so before saying anything about the main character. However, the second time through I appreciated it more. I think that my impatience the first time through was a worry that when the story came it wouldn't be worthy of the build up to it. The second time through, when I knew that there was a good story there, I was much more appreciative.As a writer, I've sometimes though that it takes a lot of arrogance to believe that your thoughts and experiences are of such importance to be of interest to other people enough to read an entire book. But then I've countered that with the thought that there is something about everyone that is distinct and incredible and it is a matter of revealing it. [The Hour of the Star] is about the process of imagining someone who seems of utter insignificance, not appealing, and finding the beauty of her life. It adds another dimension to know that Lispector was dying of cancer as she wrote it and was perhaps using it as a vehicle to question or to find the meaning of her own life.She definitely succeeds in showing meaning in the guise of seeming insignificance. I'm still not sure I wouldn't have enjoyed it more as a simple story but it is a gem of a book.
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compact yet deep metafictional narrative that magnifies a mundane woman, that digs at her being without desperation or effort, simply revealing her as is to reveal a portrait of classism, poverty, and alone-ness. All the while the narrator is trying not to betray his impartiality, his coldness, he is often endeared to or annoyed by this tragic and pitiful woman. A bare bones character study of the invisible woman that reveals the full ripeness of femininity and sensuality by showing its absence and the hidden desire for it to manifest.
A_musing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is really a very serious Nietzschean essay on Ontology, sans the uber-machismo but with a deft and well-meant humour, masquerading as a simple little story. Clarice Lispector, our author, is facing her death, and, working through a narrator who may or may not exist, looks into the eyes of a trod upon and anonymous young woman who may exist as an individual or a type and who may or may not be in the narrator's literal or figurative employ, and sees in those eyes her best answer to the questions of being and nothingness that so trouble the philosophical. Set aside the Sartre, the Heidegger, the Wittgenstein, with all their big words (her narrator emphasizes repeatedly that he has banned big words). Forget about all the twisted logic used to figure out how we know about our own existence and what its purpose may be. If there is a reason, something more than pure brute instinct, for an ugly little waif from the poorest part of Brazil to exist, perhaps even to live, there is a reason for all of us to live. And so, in the midst of life in the mud, and, quite literally, death in the mud, Clarice gives us reason to live. And while she does this, she struggles to release us from the trap of a language that defines us. Each reader can figure out whether she succeeds. Success may or may not be important.All of this is done through a style dominated by simple aphorisms (thus the Nietzschean - it's the only comparison I can think of) and a straightforward story line. No big words. Individually, her aphorisms are banal. Combined, they are profound. Clarice Lispector weaves together metaphorical rags. All I can say about the result: Wow.
thiagofali on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the only book of Clarice Lispector by which she discusses a social/political issue: Brazilian social gap and poverty. Even so, this tale is told in a very intimate way. Clarice Lispector is well-known for being, to a certain degree, hermetical/ mystical. It is not an easy read. Nothing in this book is done without an underlying reason. I don't agree, as it was said by other member reviews, that this book is about the creative process. Clarice Lispector decided to write this book after seeing a poor woman under a motorway. Lispector herself, is from a poor background and, through the effort of her father, she was well educated and reached a better life. Macabea personifies all poor, uneducated Brazilians, which, even though living under terrible standards, are unaware of the injustice they suffer and keep a smile on their faces. Clarice decided to write this book as a shout for justice, as the voice of those poor people. Of course, she wrote it in her unique, intimist style. All the other books from Lispector focus entirely on the psychological side of the characters, most of them being narrated in the 1st person. "The hour of the star" is written in the 3rd person and this might have been very difficult for Lispector, therefore, the narrator "Rodrigo" describes the difficulty in doing so. The reason for choosing the 3rd person is due to the incapability of Lispector of understanding how can someone accept so humbly his/her unjust fate. Her previous books mostly narrates the lives of women who do not fit in this world, by being too strong and not accepting moral values and defying society's expectations of them. (Lispector is also labeled as feminist) Macabea is the very opposite.Anyway, Lispector is a great read for those who likes Sartre, Virginia Woolf, Kafka, etc...Do not expect to find a conventional plot-based novel. There is much more to this books than meets the eye.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is billed as Lispector, a Brazilian pyrotechnician of words, writing her last novel. It's about 80pp long, so I am hard pressed to see how it's anything but a novella as defined by length. Its content, the descent and fall of one of life's losers, places it firmly in novella territory as well. Its beauty and grace of language mark it as a poetic novella. But it's not a complex, nuanced, developed story, so not what I'm willing to call a novel.But it's brilliant, and it's beautiful, and it should form a part of your mental furniture. It's fascinating in its presumptive male narrator's chill and malign distance from the heat of life that makes Macabea, the protagonist, both unfurl and wither seemingly simultaneously.The relationships that Macabea, immigrant to the cold cruel city from the cold cruel countryside, forms are classics of naive toxicity. She's seemingly unable to judge anyone around her...even herself...on any level deeper than the most glistening surface. She's not a bright girl, she's not a pretty girl, and she's got no discernable talent for anything. She's destined to come to a bad end. SPOILER FOLLOWS And she does, under the wheels of a Mercedes (isn't that a subtle way of accusing the haves of killing the have-nots?). END SPOILERBut Lispector, the creatrix, pulls the Oz-curtain aside periodically, dropping the rudimentary and nugatory male narrator into the bin when she has something important to say: "Will I be condemned to death for discussing a life that contains, like the lives of all of us, an inviolable secret? I am desperately trying to discover in the girl's existence at least one bright topaz."Could it be, I wonder at the end of the story, that there is no bright topaz in some lives? That the brightest sparkle in some humans is just the mineral potential of bones waiting for death to free it? Macabea, "female Maccabee" for those interested in looking for some Biblical enrichment of the tale, makes me think...unwillingly, reluctantly, but honestly...that the answer is Yes.
anna_in_pdx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This very short novel was disturbing and engrossing. One character basically invents another character (based on a girl he has only seen once on the street) and creates a sad and poignant tale about her, though he constantly protests against doing any such thing. The girl is self-effacing to the point of almost complete invisibility to the people around her and her inner life has a disturbing lack of affect. The narrator reminds me a lot of the narrating character in Lawrence Durrell's Justine, in that he is fond of making over the top statements about the people he's imagining, but then becomes painfully self-aware and starts turning against himself both as a character and as a narrator.I found it very hard after reading this book to get up and go about my business. It was unsettling. I am relieved to settle back and read uncomplicated simple novels - I feel that this book was a lot of work, not because it was hard to read - in fact it was very easy to read - but because it was very hard to take. I don't think I will read more of Clarice Lispector's work in the very near future, because I am not strong enough to handle it. I hope to be able to come back to her some time in the future, though, because she has something important to say that makes me uncomfortable, and I realize this is a mark of great fiction.
jentifer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This short novel starts out a bit slow with a lot of metaphysical rambling. The narrator serves as a rather transparent figure for the voice of the author, who works through many of her feelings about writing and permanence. Ms. Lispector wrote this novel in the last year of her life, when she knew she was dying. The novel is the story of an awkward young woman living in the city; her life is stark and tender and beautiful and absolutely dismal. I loved it.
OakleyM More than 1 year ago
I never imagined that a novel this short could be so utterly fantastic. Buy it. Read it. Read it one more time. Be amazed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in the book were difficult to follow. There may have been reason for this but I found it confusing. I suspect that the translation may have contributed to my confusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great look at someone at the bottom of the barrel from the perspective of someone at the top. I love the fact that Lispector is a woman and writes as a man telling the story of another woman. Very interesting stylistic choice. Very boring beginning but push through because it's the setup for the rest of the book. Great brief read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clarice Lispector's 'Hour of the Star' is a charming tale about a young girl who floats through life without a clear sense of purpose. Macabea, the protagonist, is ignorant rather than stupid. Growing up in a world of poverty and social destitution has left her with not a friend in the world and not a clue how to adapt to the realities of a society that demands conformity. So why would anyone want to read a story about a tragic girl whom nobody loves? You'll have to read 'Hour of the Star' yourself and find your own meaning. Lispector has a great talent for bestowing great significance to mundane and ordinary things. Although it's a bit random and vague at times, I enjoyed the book's philosophical ramblings and its tragic anti-heroine.