Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Passion According to G.H. - Clarice Lispector

When the book opens, G.H., a well-to-do resident of a Rio de Jenairo penthouse, is remembering what happened to her the previous day, when she decided to clean out the room of the maid who has just left her service.

“Before I entered the room, what was I?” G.H. asks. “I was what others had always seen me be, and that was the way I knew myself.”

In the maid’s room, G.H. expects chaos. Instead, to her shock, she finds a desert, “an entirely clean and vibrating room as in an insane asylum from which dangerous objects have been removed.”

The room was the opposite of what I had created in my house, the opposite of the soft beauty that came from my talent for arrangement, my talent for living, the opposite of my serene irony, of my sweet and exempt irony: it was a violation of my quotation marks, of the quotation marks that made me a citation of myself. The room was the portrait of an empty stomach.

Only one thing disturbs the room's perfect order: black carbon scratches on the dry white wall, outlines of a man, a woman, and a dog. Pondering the inscrutable drawing, she realizes that the black maid, whose name she has forgotten, and whose face she has trouble calling to mind, had hated her. Overwhelmed by anger, she opens the door to the wardrobe. Terrified by the cockroach she sees emerging, she slams the door shut, severing the cockroach in its center and sees the still-living animal's entrails begin to ooze out.

G.H. is appalled by the sight, but she is trapped in the room by the irresistible fascination of the dying insect. She wants to scream, but she knows it is already too late: "If I raised the alarm at being alive, voiceless and hard they would drag me away since they drag away those who depart the possible world, the exceptional being is dragged away, the screaming being.”

Staring at the insect, her human personality begins to break down; finally, at the height of her mystic crisis, she famously takes the matter oozing from the cockroach—the fundamental, anonymous matter of the universe, which she shares with the roach—and puts it in her mouth.

from Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia

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