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The Hour of the Star

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,778 Ratings  ·  486 Reviews
A novel about a young female anti-heroine living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Paperback, 86 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Carcanet Press Ltd (first published 1977)
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Ben Winch
Aug 20, 2012 Ben Winch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately I find myself in the frustrating position (not uncommon among booksellers) of being surrounded by far more books than I can read. Not only are there books in the shop, but in my spare moments at work I browse Goodreads, Abebooks and my local library system, and so have a constant stream of books passing through my hands, many of which I can do no more than glance at before returning them or putting them away for later. Into this deluge has flowed this novella by Clarice Lispector, a book ...more
Mike Puma
Jan 26, 2012 Mike Puma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the few

I’ve been putting off any attempt at writing on this one because: A) it’s rather a challenge without spoilers (although, depending on how one reads the title, the very idea of spoiler is rather silly) and B) this is one I would expect casual readers to dislike…intensely. Which leads me to:

You have confused the true and the real.
A line that Elizabeth Hand, in Fantasy & Science Fiction calls Dhalgren’s “minatory epigraph.” I’m not a reader of F&SF or Ms Hand, but, dammit, they both dese
Mar 23, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-american
A deceptively short novella with a minimal story which has an underlying philosophical intensity that belies the simple plot. It is the story of Macabea narrated by the rather mysterious Rodrigo SM; he plays a slightly ambiguous role in the story; his asides are amusing and he appears sympathetic. However I suspect he is a rather unreliable and deliberately male narrator.
Macabea has moved to Rio from Northern Brazil and is now alone in the world; strictly brought up by her aunt she is portrayed
Jan 02, 2016 Kalliope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Interstellar Heap of Dust


This is how Clarice Lispector chose to finish her book: with the same word as Joyce did. His famous Yes. But she began with it too. For as she says in her opening line, everything in the world began with a Yes.

And so she unfolds her story. Or lets her male narrator unfold it. Several barriers are thus created between her and us and her story – his story. And the Hour of the Star, not one of those in heaven, but the Star as a celebrity, is the title for the story

It was a grave mistake to commit to a binge of 200 or less page works, especially after so long a stint of the eighth longest novel in existence, third longest in English (looking at you, Women and Men) because I had forgotten how utterly manic tiny works can leave me. Can, because this is not a common complaint, as the last time this happened was with poor Zweig's Chess Story that left me bawling in my brain and stone cold in my expression. You should try it some time. I don't really mean
Nov 24, 2012 knig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quirky, 2012

Someone is walking on my grave.

Lispector is MJ Nicholl’s doppelganger. I’m sure he hasn’t heard of her, which makes the similarities of exactness between aPostmodern Belch and The Hour eerie. Not only do we have the narrator fooling around with three characters (Macabea, Gloria and Olympico) who are clearly facets of herself, but on page 57 we even have ‘quiddidity’ apropos Macabaea: need I say more?

Its no secret Macabea is a ‘loser’, an anti-heroine, an anonymous nonentity, wretched, ugly, sic
Nate D
So very strange: A Brazillian feminist luminary writing through a somewhat pompous, depressive middle-aged male narrator, himself penning (obsessing over) the merciless story of an sickly, impoverished typist who faces her station and inevitable fate with an odd acceptance somewhere between grace and lack of imagination. So much is going on in its mere 90 pages that I'm going to have to dive back in tomorrow when I'm more awake to let it sink in a bit more fully.


And one subway ride later:
On s
Apr 16, 2008 Rodrigo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Sempre tive um pé atrás em relação à Clarice por conta de uma entrevista a que assisti. O que me incomodava é que ela não se deixava ir muito a fundo. Por mais objetiva que fosse a pergunta do jornalista, ela não se despia daquela aura enigmática, respondendo sempre de maneira oblíqua. O medo era encontrar nos livros muitas frases de efeito e pouco conteúdo. Pura besteira!

A hora da estrela é de uma sensibilidade rara. O narrador estabelece uma relação complexa com a personagem, repleta de ódio,
“Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born.”

Thus opens the The Hour of the Star. Published just before Clarice Lispector’s death, reading it you could wonder if there is little of the intimate Lispector of Near to the Wild Heart. However, she betrays herself from the start. If in her first novel it was by its title, here we discover it in her opening lines. However, it goes much deeper than the mere allusion to Joyce. If here we fin
Oct 20, 2007 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lispector is one of those novelist who can write about writing, and do so before you even understand what you're reading. In this novel, she personifies the conceptual "spark of inspiration" into a strange, endearing woman, then proceeds to describe her obsessively from the point of a male author/narrator. What unfolds is that rare balance of metaphoric manifesto on writing and an engrossing narrative. Her writing is stunning, almost surreal, and this little novella has more to teach about writi ...more
Nov 18, 2015 [P] rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
I know that women are not intrinsically weak, that they are not more vulnerable than men; I know that unhappiness is not gender specific, that both sexes can suffer equally, and yet something deep in my psyche tells me that a woman’s sadness, her pain, is worse than a man’s, that it is less acceptable or tolerable. Philip Larkin once wrote that ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad, they may not mean to but they do,’ and I don’t know if I would go that far, but if I had to trace these feelings bac ...more
M. Sarki
Oct 28, 2015 M. Sarki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So Mr. Moser does the Lispector biography which I plan on reading soon as it arrives in my waiting hands, but then I read this bit here that Moser himself translated and he is making his comments of gushing praise for it saying that the book was the very first exposure he had to Lispector's genius and I am at the very same time finding myself getting a little bit sick to my stomach with all this loving on her, though I do realize she was beautiful in a Marlene Dietrich sort of way, and I also kn ...more
PGR Nair

My first exposure to the prose of the famed Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector was Selected Cronicas. I loved the book , a potpourri of many things: autobiographical experiences, short short stories, anecdotes, interviews (such as the one with Neruda), fantasies, encounters in taxi and intimate home scenes. Selected Cronicas like this one was brilliantly translated by Giovanni Pontiero. The enthusiasm spurred by the reading of it led me to order three more including this one (the other titles be
Chad Post
Nov 29, 2011 Chad Post rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It goes without saying that this is an incredible, incredible novella. Narrated by the self-involved Rodrigo S.M., he tells the story of Macabea, a pathetic, ugly, sad, unfortunate, unloved woman from the northeast part of Brazil who moves to Rio. Rodrigo's descriptions--and various asides--are by turns cutting and quite funny, and occasionally display his peculiar love for the character of Macabea. On all levels, this is an unforgettable book--one worth reading over and again.

In terms of the ne
Apr 21, 2016 Antonio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Wow. What a book. I'm still amazed.

Before this one, I've only read one of Clarice Lispector books, Family Ties, and it was a really pleasant experience. The Hour of the Star, however, shows us a brilliance which almost scares us.

This book has two main characters: Macabéa, a northeastern woman, one among thousands of them (they don't even have their uniqueness accordingly with the narrator), all ignored by society, who has no knowledge of life, no hopes and not even a destiny. On the other hand,
Dec 30, 2015 Josh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
When I read a book, I don't expect everything to make perfect sense, in fact, I've read many things that didn't quite live up to the hype, but I found substance in it somewhere. With that said, I do expect a book and its purpose to correlate to what an author previously says within the same text, much less the same page.

"She believed in everything that existed and in everything non-existent as well."
"She prayed, but without God. She did not know Him, therefore He did not exist."

I won't say t
É uma das frutas que mais gosto. No entanto, esse gosto não surgiu naturalmente mas por aprendizagem. Queria perceber porque havia pessoas que se deliciavam com uma fruta viscosa; por vezes tão acre que me deixava a língua "entabuada"; com uma pele muito fininha e impossível de descascar e que me obrigava a fazer a maior javardice para o conseguir comer. Insisti, insisti, insisti. Agora sou louca pelo seu sabor doce e pela sua textura suave. São frutos muito sensíveis que, para serem apr
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.875* of five

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
I had never heard of Clarice Lispector until I saw it on Les Plesko's reading list (see my Goodreads blog on this mindblowing list), which I am gradually moving through. I decided to start with this one, an extremely short book, readable in a sitting, which was actually her last book. Self-doubting in the way only a very confident writer can be, a writer questioning the entire project--full of ideas and insights and the exploration of this thing we do, creating literature. Ostensibly about a pit ...more
In telling the story of a 'meagre' character, an orphan from the poorest region of Brazil living in poverty in Rio, Lispector offers no philosophical certainty, proceeding from one diffuse reflection to another, usually conflicting one, while retaining a vice-like grip on the minimal narrative.

The dialogue is particularly masterful - somehow razor sharp despite the characters' limited capacities for insight. Macabea's exchanges with her boyfriend and with the doctor expose social ills both petty
I'm honestly baffled by the constant comparisons between this and Woolf. On the back of my edition it even calls Lispector "that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich but wrote like Virginia Woolf", which, in addition to being horribly sexist (this whole "pretty girls are assumed stupid until proven otherwise" perception has got to die) is flat out wrong. While I love Woolf, I don't think she could have written anything even remotely resembling The Hour of the Star in ten lifetimes. It's ...more
Feb 23, 2010 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Clarice Lispector's name has been on my radar for awhile. I heard she was beloved by Borges, Cortazar and Bolano. I also heard she was insanely influential among the Latin American writers who were part of the "cool-set." So I finally decided to pick up one of her books - a small one, which happily is supposed to be one of her best.

The book is written in a clean, sparse, and beautiful style, but the story is anything but simple. The narrative flip flops from the author's ruminations on writing,
May 10, 2015 Yani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quedé fascinada con esta autora desde La bella y la bestia. Y si los cuentos de ese libro, cuya publicación fue póstuma, me introdujeron al extraño mundo de Clarice Lispector, La hora de la estrella terminó de convencerme y ahora quiero quedarme a vivir allí. Parece un mundo ordinario, en donde vemos vivencias ordinarias de gente ordinaria, pero hay algo que no lo es: la forma de contarlo. Lispector toma un hecho y lo trata de adentro hacia afuera, de modo que uno se cruza con pensamientos a ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Rand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best novella I have read all year.

The first forty pages were amazing—constant asides from the narrator talking about the story, storytelling, the main character. Lots of good stuff, so much so I had to stop to take notes. The further along I got, the less the text compelled me to note-take.

There are many worse ways to spend an afternoon, but few better ones. Highly recommended, if you appreciate the way in which a story is told, and what it means to tell.

note that goodreads entry for this
Tanuj Solanki
Feb 18, 2013 Tanuj Solanki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-america, jewish
One does not understand the sanctity of the title, though the novel is near-excellent.

While pure being allows for self-consciousness, it may be so simplistic that it leads to near anonymity. Is it commendable to be like that in our world? - this seems to be one of the questions.

The writer is writing as the reader is reading. Lispector's interventions are very well done / managed. For formal rigour and philosophical inquiry, the novel could stand with the very best.

A week without a funeral was an empty week for this man who might have been crazy but knew very well what he wanted. So actually he wasn’t crazy at all. Macabéa, unlike Olímpico, was a cross between “what" and “what”.


Besides she increasingly couldn’t explain herself. She transformed herself into organic simplicity. And she’d figured out how to find in simple and honest things the grace of a sin. She liked to feel time passing. Although she didn’t have a watch, or perhaps for that very reason,
Rosa Ramôa
Dec 25, 2014 Rosa Ramôa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somos completamente miseráveis,é claro!!!

“Ela acreditava em anjo e, porque acreditava, eles existiam"
Neal Adolph
I think I will read this book again. It is a short and wonderful story about a woman who becomes, throughout the story, the Maria of the world. By this I mean she is the mother of our experiences - the one who has given us our intelligences and stupidity, our beauty and our ugliness (this sentence suggests a parallel that isn't there). It is about her life and her death and most importantly it is about her death. And this is what I like about this story - as the mother of all our experiences, it ...more
Dec 05, 2011 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
not having read the giovanni pontiero (saramago's longtime english translator) translation of the hour of the star, i am unable to compare the original translation with benjamin moser's new one, yet his afterword in this newly retranslated edition seems to make clear that lispector's seemingly unconventional use of punctuation and grammar was entirely intentional. much has been made about the difficult task a translator confronts when rendering a book from its native language, and perhaps nowher ...more
Aug 12, 2007 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rich people trying to understand poor people
This book features perhaps the most annoying narrators in the history of literature, and it's not the good annoying like Holden Caulfield. This narrator repeats himself over and over even contradicting himself and needlessly commenting about how he writes about a girl that just makes her message so much less pronounced. the narrative itself is like a half hour episode of a miniseries with very littler of anything, the characters are all unnappealing and without any charisma whatsoever, which cou ...more
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Clarice Lispector was a Brazilian writer. Acclaimed internationally for her innovative novels and short stories, she was also a journalist. Born to a Jewish family in Podolia in Western Ukraine, she was brought to Brazil as an infant, amidst the disasters engulfing her native land following the First World War.

She grew up in northeastern Brazil, where her mother died when she was nine. The family
More about Clarice Lispector...

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“Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?” 311 likes
“Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born.” 88 likes
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