Benjamin Moser and the Smallest Woman in the World

By Magdalena EdwardsAugust 16, 2019

Benjamin Moser and the Smallest Woman in the World
I FIRST MET Benjamin Moser nearly 15 years ago at Denise Milfont’s house in Rio de Janeiro. Denise, a beloved actress and linchpin of arts and culture in Rio, said to me, “You have to meet Benjamin. He’s writing about Clarice.” She introduced me as “Magdalena, who writes about Elizabeth Bishop.” Bishop, one of Lispector’s earliest translators into English, published three short stories by the Brazilian writer — including “The Smallest Woman in the World,” “A Hen,” and “Marmosets” — in Kenyon Review in 1964. Moser and I immediately started comparing notes: have you been to this archive, did you meet that person, and what do you think of this detail? He lived in Europe and I lived in California, so we saw each other almost never. We would exchange the occasional effusively nerdy email.

Early in our correspondence, in July 2006, I sent Moser the chapter from my dissertation on Bishop in which I discuss her translations of Lispector’s stories. In 2008, he put me in touch with Dedi Felman, co-founder of Words Without Borders, to translate a fragment from Lispector’s third novel, The Besieged City, which had not yet appeared in English. I translated the second chapter and Moser applied his editorial eye over email, giving feedback on my Word document through track changes. The chapter was never published; these things happen. But I was deeply grateful to Moser. When Oxford University Press released his book, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, in 2009, I was delighted to see my name in the acknowledgments. In September 2015, when Moser asked me if I’d be interested in translating The Chandelier, Lispector’s second novel, I was thrilled.

In the summer of 2017, my name appeared in the New Directions catalog of titles forthcoming in winter 2018 as the translator of Lispector’s The Chandelier. Though Moser’s name was not listed, he was already well known as the series editor of the new Lispector translations. Lispector’s The Complete Stories, translated by Katrina Dodson and published in 2015, had brought Moser and the entire enterprise loads of positive attention. Dodson was the sixth in the crew of new Lispector translators, which included Alison Entrekin, Stefan Tobler, Johnny Lorenz, and Idra Novey, who each translated one of the four novels published in 2012. Moser’s version of The Hour of the Star, published in 2011, was the first in the series. His role as editor is prominently featured in each of the new books translated by other hands, and he also wrote the introductions for three of these. Both Novey’s translation of The Passion According to G. H. and Dodson’s The Complete Stories include a “Translator’s Note.” I knew I was joining a lively ensemble, but I had much to learn about the new Lispector enterprise. And in order to learn it, things would first have to fall apart.

In the end, when The Chandelier was published, I was credited as the co-translator with my name after Moser’s. The truth is that Moser tried to get me fired, arguing that my completed manuscript was not up to snuff, that my level of Portuguese was insufficient, and that he would have to rewrite every line of my translation. What happened?


One way I can begin to answer that question is to turn to a Guardian article by Alison Flood, from May 13, 2019, in which she discusses Moser’s forthcoming biography, Sontag: Her Life and Work (Ecco, September 17, 2019). Flood’s article centers on Moser’s claim that Sontag was the real author of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (1959), the book that cemented her ex-husband Philip Rieff’s career — a book she presumably wrote when she was in her early 20s. Flood quotes Moser quoting a friend of Sontag’s, Minda Rae Amiran, who “told him that, while the pair lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ‘Susan was spending every afternoon rewriting the whole thing from scratch.’” The expression “rewriting the whole thing from scratch” — in reference to Sontag’s work on Rieff’s Freud book — grabbed my attention, because it echoed the argument used to explain why I needed to be fired by New Directions. Presumably my work was so shoddy that Moser would have to rewrite every line. However, while I was tied up trying to communicate with New Directions — this was in late summer 2017 — to save my reputation and my work, Moser began simply to edit my manuscript, not to rewrite it.

As I sought guidance from colleagues, I realized that I had been terribly naïve. I had signed a contract with New Directions in late July 2016 to translate The Chandelier as the sole translator; a lawyer friend would later point out to me that the contract did not name Moser as an editor or give him any official role in the process. Moser and I had not set up a schedule for working on the translation as editor and translator, and at no time prior to the attempted firing did we do any work together on the manuscript. At the advice of one of my mentors in Los Angeles, I had applied for and was granted a residency at Yaddo in the summer of 2016, to work on my translation of The Chandelier, which required me to submit a sample of my work. One week after the stipulated date on my contract, which was June 30, 2017, and after asking Moser for a brief extension, I submitted to him, and only him, my draft of the translated novel as a Word document via email. In the body of the email, I called my manuscript “imperfect” — and I emphasized that I was eager to receive his feedback, so that I could embark on my revisions. What happened next was completely unexpected. Barbara Epler, publisher and president of New Directions, was brought into the conversation, and she and I began receiving PDF pages of my manuscript marked up by Moser (by hand, not with track changes on the Word document I had sent him via email). There were a lot of marks on each page. I was confused, but I decided to go with the flow.

Not long after these pages began to arrive, I received a couple of emails from Moser suggesting that my work was not on the level he had anticipated. Then I received an email from Epler in which I was offered a “kill fee” for my work, which was not a term in my contract, and which set off alarm bells. At first I was flustered and apologetic. Surely this was a misunderstanding. When I started to educate myself about my rights as a translator with a contract and decided to push back, I was told that what I had submitted was not the “final draft” that had been expected and required. I looked at my contract again, now with the help of a lawyer specializing in literary translation, and noted the term “complete manuscript.” I explained that I had not understood the term “complete manuscript” to mean “final draft” — especially when Moser, the presumed editor, and I had not done any work together. Something felt very, very off. My gut told me I had to dig deeper.


Decades earlier, Sontag had signed herself up to be Rieff’s ghostwriter. In his biography, Moser writes:

Susan’s very first account of their relationship was the letter to Judith [Sontag’s sister] in which she described her excitement at meeting [Rieff] and the work she was doing ghostwriting his reviews, saving him “the trouble of reading the book.” Perhaps this procedure seemed normal in 1950; but even viewed in the most liberal light, it begs the question of why a twenty-seven-year-old not-yet-professor was hiring an undergraduate to review books he himself had not read.

What stands out to me is that Rieff was neither reading the books in question nor writing the texts he was putting his name on; Sontag did all the work and got none of the credit. Sontag’s ghostwriting gig later seemed to seep into Rieff’s book project, whose origin story is more complex than that of the reviews Sontag simply wrote on Rieff’s behalf. Moser writes: “[T]he [Freud] book seems to be based, at least to some degree, on [Rieff’s] research and notes. But if his ideas are present in it, too, he almost certainly did not write the book upon which his career was based.”

Upon reading Moser’s assessment, I wondered: When an idea written by Rieff in his research notes makes it into a text recomposed or revised from said notes by Sontag, an emerging intellect who also understood Freud deeply, who can claim authorship of the final text? I also wanted to know: What did Rieff’s notes look like? Did they include fully formed sentences and paragraphs, or chapter titles, or chapter drafts? Moser does not give us the answers to these latter questions, but he does offer this, from an interview with Sigrid Nunez: “Susan claimed she wrote ‘every single word’ of The Mind of the Moralist. Philip belatedly allowed that she was its ‘co-author.’”

Questions of authorship, appropriation, and uncredited work are critical to Moser’s discussion of Sontag. For him, the Freud book, ultimately credited to Rieff, is a “complete […] working-out of the themes that marked Susan Sontag’s life.” To make Rieff’s behavior worse, the first edition of the book included an acknowledgment that “would be removed from subsequent editions, but it raised eyebrows when it appeared,” not least because Sontag never used her husband’s name: Rieff thanks “my wife, Susan Rieff, who devoted herself unstintingly to this book.” Moser’s analysis of this acknowledgment is swift, unflinching: “It was an attempt to colonize her identity, to shove his wife back into the traditional role: to reassert his authority, to get back on top.” The Sontag-Rieff conflict over who did what work and who got what credit felt painfully familiar to me, The Chandelier’s translator-turned-co-translator. And Moser’s position in this conflict became all the more complicated when I considered it alongside a number of essays, which I had only come across recently, that questioned the originality and source materials of Moser’s career-cementing work on Lispector, the subject of his first biography.


As my conflict with Moser over The Chandelier unfolded in the summer of 2017, I began to pay more attention to everything I knew, or thought I knew, about Lispector and the stewardship of her legacy. I began to learn of the bad blood between Moser and Nádia Gotlib, author of Clarice, uma vida que se conta, a biography of Lispector first published in São Paulo with Editora Ática in 1995 and now in its seventh edition. I was pointed to Benjamin Abdala Junior’s essay, “Biografia de Clarice, por Benjamin Moser: coincidências e equívocos” (“The Biography of Clarice, by Benjamin Moser: Coincidences and Mistakes”), which was published in Portuguese in an academic journal in 2010. In it, Abdala Junior argues that Moser had borrowed more than heavily from Gotlib, and indicates similarities in the narrative structures of their biographies, which include chapter and subchapter titles:

[T]he similarities are not just in the narrative arc. If in Nádia Gotlib’s book there is a subchapter titled “The Witch’s Recipes,” in Moser’s there is a chapter titled “The Witch.” In the Brazilian critic’s book there are “The Possible Dialogues,” in Moser’s there are “Possible Dialogues”. In Clarice, uma vida que se conta there is “The Hurricane Clarice,” in [Why This World] there is “Hurricane Clarice” … (my translation)

Abdala Junior also gets into the question of Lispector’s mother’s illness and whether it was, as Moser claims in his book, syphilis that she contracted after being raped by Soviet soldiers during the pogroms in Ukraine, which the family fled in 1921. Abdala Junior argues that Moser invents this terrible and disturbing two-prong family secret (rape, syphilis). Moser and Gotlib appeared together at the FLIPORTO literary conference in 2010 and discussed their respective biographies of Lispector. The question of whether Lispector’s mother was raped during the pogroms and contracted syphilis was raised by Gotlib, not without tense contestation, as can be seen online (at 27:45).

Lorrie Moore’s review of Moser’s Lispector biography for The New York Review of Books (September 24, 2009) dedicates its third paragraph to Gotlib, whom Moore describes as a “devoted […] scholar” but not as one of Lispector’s earliest and most authoritative biographers. Moore’s review is enthusiastic overall — she calls Moser’s biography “a well-written and remarkable book” — while offering a couple of criticisms: “[Moser] discusses [Lispector’s] work in great detail, book after book, with sympathy and insight, and admirably eschews jargon though he underemphasizes her wit.” And: “If there are other weaknesses in Moser’s biography, they are largely organizational: there are repetitions, as well as subjects that once begun are then dropped.” Moore discusses Why This World within a constellation of other books, including four translations by Giovanni Pontiero, whose work she recommends: “First-time readers might be advised to start with the Giovanni Pontiero translations, which have been enthusiastically praised and do seem successfully to capture a real voice on the page.” Gregory Rabassa’s translation of Lispector’s The Apple in the Dark is also among the volumes up for discussion. Lispector praised Rabassa’s version, published by Knopf in 1967, the first of her novels translated into English: “The translation seems very good to me.” [1] However, Moore criticizes Rabassa’s comment on Lispector’s beauty, as well as the fact that Moser makes nothing of it:

[T]he smitten translator Gregory Rabassa’s much-reprinted line, that Lispector was ‘that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf,’ is never questioned for its sexism, i.e., is beauty a contraindication of an intellectual life? Would anyone say this of Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, or Camus?

A colleague encouraged me to read the critical reviews of the New Directions translations written by the scholar and translator Elizabeth Lowe, who knew Lispector and co-translated her 1973 novel Água Viva, as The Stream of Life, with Earl E. Fitz (University of Minnesota Press, 1989). Writing in Translation Review, Lowe describes the mission of the Moser series as follows:

Moser felt that one of the problems with existing translations of Lispector was that different translators did them at different times and that the “voice” changed from translation to translation. Moser and Barbara Epler at New Directions agreed, “She needed to speak with a single voice in English.”

But Lowe contests this idea as not in keeping with Lispector’s artistic spirit:

[T]he premise that a single “voice” for this author is possible is a betrayal of her unique creative spirit. In fact, the idea of anyone appropriating her “voice” would have offended her. I can hear her exclaiming “O que?” Lispector was famously protective of the integrity of her work.

Lowe’s critique of Moser’s translation project as univocal surprised me. I had written a review of Dodson’s translation of The Complete Stories for The Millions where I noted: “This is the sixth New Directions book […] in less than four years under the helm of series editor Moser […]. Each book has a different translator, which suits the multivalent spirit of Clarice’s strange and unsettling oeuvre.” And yet, in the Paris Review, Moser says it plainly: “I wanted to create a unified voice for Clarice in English.”

Lowe’s description of Moser and Epler speaking in one voice inspired me to look deeper at the editor’s and publisher’s collaboration. I found a news story by Craig Morgan Teicher, titled “New Directions Resurrects Clarice Lispector with New Translations,” which appeared in Publishers Weekly on September 27, 2011:

When Moser heard that New Directions was preparing to reissue Lispector’s last novel, The Hour of the Star in its original English translation by Giovanni Pontiero with a new introduction by Colm Toibin, he contacted Epler and insisted they do a new translation: “You can’t say no to that guy,” said Epler. “He finally just put a bag over my head and clubbed me and said he’d do the translation himself in two or three weeks.”

In light of my experience, Epler’s assertion that Moser would not hear “no” and her metaphorical description of how he got the “yes,” however much it was intended as a joke, was disturbing to read.

At an event celebrating the new Lispector translations with translators Idra Novey and Johnny Lorenz on January 23, 2013, Epler said, when asked how the New Directions project evolved, that she was “steamrolled” by Moser and admitted that she “abandoned” the translators and left them to work things out with him. She also uses the word “painful” to describe the process. Novey calls Moser “relentless” and Lorenz describes how Moser would virtually “slap” him over Skype when they would debate a translation choice. There is a shared sense among all three speakers that, because Lispector herself was a difficult person and a difficult writer, the process of translating her work could not be easy or entirely peaceful. While Moser was not in attendance — which may have allowed for more candid reflections about what it was like to work with him — he is named and his fundamental contribution to the Lispector enterprise is acknowledged many times. On the other hand, during an hour-long conversation about Lispector’s The Complete Stories at the Library of Congress, which took place on April 15, 2016, Moser does not mention the translator of the book, Katrina Dodson, until he receives a question about her during the Q-and-A. The New York City book launch for The Complete Stories took place at Book Culture’s Columbus Avenue location on August 19, 2015, and featured Moser and Vanity Fair’s Anderson Tepper in conversation. No Dodson.


Soon enough it became clear to me that because I had not been to Brazil since July 2007 — after my graduate student years punctuated by regular research abroad, I had experienced 10-plus years that were more domestic and no less eventful, years that included the births of my three children and the publication of various essays and translations and other work, as well as numerous freelance jobs as an editor and a literary assistant and a tutor — I was not enough in the know. When you show up in person, you can learn things no one will write to you or tell you over the phone or through social media. In person, you can feel the room and use your intuition, your body, your ears, and your eyes. In her crônica “Intelectual? Não” (“Intellectual? No”), Lispector writes: “To be an intellectual is to use your intelligence first and foremost, which I do not do: I use my intuition, my instinct.” [2] After much time at home, I was again on the scent.

I traveled to Rio de Janeiro in July 2018 with a couple of copies of The Chandelier in my carry-on suitcase. The first step was to attend the international and interdisciplinary Brazilianist conference BRASA at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where there would be 13 talks on Lispector. Most of all, I wanted to listen to what Brazilian scholars, writers, translators, and students had to say about the ever-growing field of Lispector studies, in particular the New Directions translation project. I also hoped I might have a chance to meet with Lispector’s son, Paulo Gurgel Valente, the person in charge of her literary estate.

The morning I arrived in Rio, July 20, 2018, I opened my email and saw that a friend had sent me a link to The New York Times. Three “Letters to the Editor” had been published in response to Moser’s July 1 takedown review of This Little Art (Fitzcarraldo, 2018), a book about translation as a creative practice written by Kate Briggs, one of Roland Barthes’s translators. The first letter, signed by Susan Bernofsky, Lydia Davis, Katrina Dodson, Karen Emmerich, John Keene, Duncan Large, Karen Van Dyck, Lawrence Venuti, and Emily Wilson, states: “Beyond the review’s general tone of condescension and occasional misogynistic sniping, Moser gives only a scanty and distorted notion of the book’s contents and instead spends most of his review debunking points Briggs never made.” I clicked on Moser’s original review and stopped at the following line: “As an editor of translations, I have seen how bad — how truly, appallingly awful — many are.” I cringed, but kept reading. The final paragraph of his review brought me right back to Lispector’s The Chandelier, the main character of which is named Virginia:

If translation, like everything else, can lend itself to theorizing, it is first and foremost an art of detail: “only a question,” as Virginia Woolf said of prose writing, “of finding the right words and putting them in the right order.” The ironic jab of that teensy “only” is the kind of thing a translator savors getting just right.

I thought immediately about Moser’s translation of Lispector’s The Hour of the Star and the mistakes — “art of detail” — I had found when preparing a presentation for the Clarice Lispector conference at Oxford University in November 2017. The one that leapt to mind first was the missing adjective describing the color of the car that runs over the novel’s protagonist, Macabéa, leaving her dead in the street. The original reads: “E enorme como um transatlântico o Mercedes amarelo pegou-a.”[3] Giovanni Pontiero’s translation has: “And a yellow Mercedes, as huge as an ocean liner, knocked her down.”[4] Moser’s has: “And enormous as an ocean liner the Mercedes hit her.”[5] I doubt that for Lispector the choice of the car’s color, yellow, was an unimportant detail.

Teensy details do matter — and sometimes details are not so teensy. At the bottom of Moser’s review of This Little Art, the editors of The New York Times have issued a correction:

The biographical note with an earlier version of this review omitted a translator’s name. The reviewer translated Clarice Lispector’s novel “The Chandelier” with Magdalena Edwards; he did not translate it alone.

And who does anything alone, frankly? I found myself in Rio de Janeiro asking myself this very question and thinking about how strange it was to be back in Lispector’s Leme neighborhood now that I myself was a mother. I began to feel my way through Lispector’s fiction, crônicas, letters, and the traces of her life left behind in a whole new way, with a whole new sense both of humor and of ferociousness.

Lispector’s astonishing short story “The Smallest Woman in the World” tells the tale of the smallest of all the pygmies, a tiny creature named Little Flower, and the French explorer Marcel Pretre, who, according to him, discovers and names her. It is worth mentioning that in Portuguese the verb “explorar” means both “to explore” and “to exploit.” One of the most delicious moments in the story for me is when the explorer not only sees Little Flower, but also begins to understand that she is pregnant. The story has been translated three times into English: by Elizabeth Bishop, Giovanni Pontiero, and Katrina Dodson. Little Flower is an unruly female who does unexpected things: she “scratched herself where no one scratches” (Bishop), [6] “[s]he loved that yellow explorer” (Pontiero), [7] and she communicated to him in her language: “Little Flower answered ‘yes.’ That it was very good to have a tree to live in, her own, her very own” (Dodson). [8] For me, “The Smallest Woman in the World” is the not-so-secret key to Lispector’s oeuvre, a foundational text where she makes clear to her readers, fans, scholars, biographers, publishers, editors, translators, and anyone else who comes across her work that she will not be pinned down or captured. Lispector owns herself, her work, her tree of language, and it is good.


I learned many things during my stay in Rio de Janeiro in July 2018, and I returned in October of the same year to give presentations on Lispector at PUC-Rio and at UNIFESP in São Paulo, as well as to continue my research on the Brazilian writer and her early translator, Bishop. I also had the chance to visit Belo Horizonte for the first time, where I met with Lispector’s biographer Nádia Gotlib. She directed me to a 2018 essay by Thiago Cavalcante Jeronimo titled “Benjamin Moser: Quando a luz dos holofotes interessa mais que a ética acadêmica” (“Benjamin Moser: When the Spotlight Is of Greater Concern than Academic Honesty”). Jeronimo opens his text with a bang:

Released [in Brazil in Portuguese] on November 16, 2009, by the now defunct [publisher] Cosac Naify, the biography written by Benjamin Moser, Clarice, a biography (read “Clarice Comma”), brings to light the North American critic’s conflicts and unexpected coincidences with, as well as misconceptions and misappropriation of, the work of distinguished Brazilian researchers.

He also picks up on the question of whether Moser’s assertion that Lispector’s mother was raped is a provable fact:

The biographical fictionalization that punctuates Moser’s account in a reticent manner, so that it can be affirmed later as a true occurrence in his book, reappears without the shadow of a doubt in the preface the author wrote for the volume The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector, published by Rocco, in 2016. The author asserts: “her mother was raped.” [9] An interpretive assumption becomes an incident “proven without proof” by the biographer-who-fictionalizes.

Both Jeronimo and Benjamin Abdala Junior point to Teresa Montero’s biography Eu Sou Uma Pergunta: Uma biografia de Clarice Lispector, published in 1999 in Rio de Janeiro by Rocco, as an additional source Moser leaned on more than heavily for his book. Neither essay brings up the scholarly work of one of Moser’s professors at Brown, Nelson Vieira, whose 1995 book, Jewish Voices in Brazilian Literature: A Prophetic Discourse of Alterity, features a chapter dedicated to Lispector: “Clarice Lispector: A Jewish Impulse and a Prophecy of Difference.” [10] These books by Gotlib, Montero, and Vieira each appear in the “Works Cited” section of Moser’s Why This World, but one begins to wonder why they are not foregrounded as three of the most fundamental stepping-stones for the discussion laid out in his book. In Moser’s acknowledgments, one finds:

To my fellow claricianos […] Nádia Batella Gotlib, Brazil’s greatest authority on Clarice Lispector, whose biographical research uncovered so many essential facts about Clarice’s life, and whose help with the photographs saved me many headaches; Teresa Cristina Montero Ferreira, whose own biography is packed with fruits of her exhaustive research. […] A special word is due Nelson Vieira, brilliant teacher and scholar, who first fired my enthusiasm for Clarice when I was an undergraduate and who was among the first to understand Clarice as a Jewish writer.

But in the book they are scarcely mentioned. In Rio de Janeiro in October 2018, the press Autêntica released Teresa Montero’s latest book, O Rio de Clarice: Passeio afetivo pela cidade (Clarice’s Rio: An Affective Stroll through the City). In mid-December 2018, Professor Vieira gave the keynote address at the “Clarice Lispector: Memory and Belonging” conference in Jerusalem. Life goes on.

The paperback edition of The Chandelier was released in late May 2019 with a hot pink cover that eschewed the title itself for the image of a chandelier, a playful and fetching choice, to my mind. The hardcover of the newest title among the new Lispector translations, The Besieged City, rendered into English for the first time by Johnny Lorenz, had also arrived with my mail earlier in the spring. One mystery I would love to help unravel is what happened to the Pontiero version of this novel, which had been slated for publication in 1999 by Carcanet Press. I thought about this as I read Moser’s introduction to The Besieged City, when suddenly I had to stop at the following sentence about Lispector’s use of commas: “Breaking rhythms, adding pauses, shifting emphases, hundreds of commas are sprinkled throughout, changing the music of her prose, clarifying difficult passages — and then, just as often, muddying them further, weird little hairs in the soup.” This sounded terribly familiar. The second paragraph of Katrina Dodson’s “Translator’s Note” for The Complete Stories ends as follows: “A comma trips up the pace where it doesn’t seem to belong, like a hair she’s placed in your soup.”

I wish Moser had cited Dodson’s observation about Lispector’s startling commas that appear in her prose like hair in your soup. I wish Moser had credited Dodson for her work. I wish …

Did Moser make a mistake in the “art of detail” as he was writing? Did he simply misremember Dodson’s idea as his own, or did he “colonize” her prose as, according to him, Rieff had done when he took credit for Sontag’s work and thanked her as “Susan Rieff”?

I could also ask the question in another way that expands the conversation to include the translation, literary, and publishing communities: Who gets thanked for their devotion, and who gets credit for their work?


Magdalena Edwards is a writer, actor, and translator from Spanish & Portuguese. Her work has appeared in Boston Review, The Paris Review Daily, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Rattle, The Critical Flame, Words Without Borders, and Chile’s leading newspaper, El Mercurio. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard. More at and on Twitter @magda8lena and Instagram at @msmagda8lena


[1] Clarice Lispector, Outros escritos (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Rocco, 2005), p. 117.

[2] Clarice Lispector, “Intelectual? Não,” A Descoberta do Mundo: Crônicas (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1999), p. 149.

[3] Clarice Lispector, A hora da estrela (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1999), p. 79.

[4] Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star, trans. Giovanni Pontiero (New York: New Directions, 1986), p. 79.

[5] Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star, trans. Benjamin Moser (New York: New Directions, 2011), p. 70.

[6] Elizabeth Bishop, Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters (New York: Library of America, 2008), p. 303.

[7] Clarice Lispector, Family Ties, trans. Giovanni Pontiero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972), p. 94.

[8] Clarice Lispector, The Complete Stories, trans. Katrina Dodson (New York: New Directions, 2015), p. 172.

[9] Moser’s “Introduction” to Lispector’s Complete Stories is also available here:

[10] Nelson H. Vieira, Jewish Voices in Brazilian Literature: A Prophetic Discourse of Alterity (Miami: University Press of Florida, 1995).

LARB Contributor

Magdalena Edwards is a writer, actor, and translator from Spanish and Portuguese. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at UCLA's Latin American Institute and an Artist in Residence at Highways Performance Space. Her work has appeared in Boston Review, The Paris Review Daily, Los Angeles Review of Books, Words Without Borders, Full Stop, The Point, London Review of BooksThe Millions, Rattle, The Critical Flame, and Chile’s leading newspaper, El Mercurio. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard. More at and on Twitter @magda8lena and Instagram at @msmagda8lena


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