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The Passion According to G.H.

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,718 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Aficionados of South American fiction as well as literary critics will welcome this posthumous translation of a nearly plotless novel by one of Brazil's foremost writers. Availing herself of a single character, Lispector transforms a banal situation—a woman at home, alone—into an amphitheater for philosophical investigations. The first-person narration jousts with language ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 15th 1988 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1964)
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David
The Passion According to G.H. is a difficult book to talk about—in part because it attempts to say the unsayable—so I'm going to talk about it in a very roundabout, personal way. If you're one of those Dragnet types who wants 'just the facts, ma'am,' you'd better scram right about now because I have absolutely no idea where this thing is going. I guess I'll just let this review be what it wants to be.

My first crisis was—I want to say at around the age of ten. But when I say it was the first cris
...more
Rod
Holy crap. I'm not even sure what the hell it was that I just read, but it was undoubtedly the work of a genius. It probably deserves five stars just for being such a unique work of art, but I feel more comfortable with four simply because it lacked that crucial element of enjoyment. I can't say that I enjoyed it, even though I think I loved it (but what am I so afraid of?). I prefer a bit of, you know, plot and characterization, but Lispector's prose is so mesmerizing that it almost doesn't mat ...more
Stephen P
Jun 08, 2015 Stephen P rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy the charm of reading mirrors sparkled clean.
Recommended to Stephen by: Proustitute, Ben Winch

She lives well. A sculptress, she is financially well off, living in a penthouse apartment furnished in shades of neutral colors. Claiming many friends she has reflected herself back to herself through their eyes. She enjoys what she sees as they do hers. Get-togethers occur at the right frequency. It is much like stopping at the gas station and filling up the tank.

Her live-in maid has left, a black african american women. Stepping into another country, the country from within another person's m
...more
M. Sarki
Clarice Lispector's narrator G.H. claims at the end of this book that she does not understand what she is saying and it hits a note that for me was a constantly present thread throughout the bulk of my entire reading of The Passion According to G.H. Oh yes, there were many sentences I did enjoy and I knew exactly what she was saying to me. But for the most part I felt all along that she was simply hearing herself talk and wondering if she could eventually get out of the corner she had painted he ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 27, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
This is a very thought-provoking book. This as its tagline: A world wholly alive has a Hellish power.

If you are the type of a reader who rates books according to your level of enjoyment while reading, then this book is not for you. Wait, let me correct myself. If you want to think heavily while reading, there’s a chance that you might like this book too.

I ordered this second-hand book via Amazon and paid $9.94 plus $4.99 as shipping charges. Paying $14.93 (P627.00) for a second-hand book wit
...more
Paul
How to review this! Much more introspective than The Hour of the Star. G.H. means genero humano; basically human kind; otherwise we don’t know her name. She is reflecting on something that happened the day before. The premise is fairly simple G.H. is well to do; lives in a penthouse and has a maid who has just left. She decides to clean the maids room which she expects to be cluttered. The room however is clean apart from some drawings on the wall; a man, a woman and a dog. There is also a wardr ...more
Ben Winch
The Passion of G.H. is something like a miracle, so uniquely potent that you wonder how a human being could have conjured it. It’s poetry:
The green water of the air. I see everything through a full glass. [...] It’s eleven in the morning in Brazil. It’s now. That means exactly now. Now is time swollen to the limit. Eleven o’clock has no depth. Eleven o’clock is full of eleven hours up to the brim of the green glass. Time trembles as a motionless balloon. The air is fertilised and wheezing.
...
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Rowena
“I am now going to tell you how I entered the inexpressive that was always my blind and secret search. How I entered whatever exists between the number one and the number two, how I saw the line of mystery and fire, and which is surreptitious line. A note exists between two notes of music, between two facts exists a fact, between two grains of sand no matter how close together there exists an interval of space, a sense that exists between senses- in the interstices of primordial matter is the l ...more
Jonathan
An extraordinary work by the greatest writer of the interior crisis, of the fragmented and the fragmenting, of the breaking and the broken...Her technique is impeccable - the breadcrumbs of an exterior life, of "plot" and "reasons", which are just enough to keep the reader correctly situated but never undermine the mythic and the universally personal (the self that is all self). I need to re-read it though, I need to go slow and listen hard instead of being caught up in the flow...
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I suspect Clarice Lispector copied here the style in Fernando Pessoa's "The Book of Disquiet" to produce this exasperating, introspective, highfalutin nonsense. Like "The Book of Disquiet" it is written in the first person singular, plot-less, tackles life's big issues (God, existence, death, soul, time, etc.), divided into short chapters and resort to refrains (Pessoa likes to repeat phrases from an earlier chapter or paragraph; Lispector makes it a point to start the new chapter with the last ...more
Rory
Sep 27, 2007 Rory rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: thinkers
I had a very difficult time reading this book. Clarice Lispector gives you the first person account of this fictional woman as she goes through an intense unraveling of self. The style is very unconventional, using a great deal of repetion, contradiction, and free form stream of consciousness, as well as very fractured grammar. All this makes the flow of the prose seem to undulate back and forth, sometimes flowing, sometimes stilted, but at some point you begin to understand that she seems to be ...more
jeremy
published while in her early forties, the passion according to g.h. (a paixão segundo g.h.) is a mesmerizing, unsettling, and sometimes vertiginous work, yet, like all of clarice lispector's writing, one punctuated by a most unique and gorgeous prose. themes of reality, identity, alienation, depersonalization, contradiction, and mysticism come oozing out of this slim novel as, say, the creamy innards of a broad, relatively flat insect might, were the door of a wardrobe to be quickly closed upon ...more
Elizabeth
"Give me your hand:
Now I’m going to tell you how I went into that inexpressiveness that was always my blind, secret quest. How I went into what exists between the number one and the number two, how I saw the mysterious, fiery line, how it is a surreptitious line. Between two musical notes there exists another note, between two facts there exists another fact, between two grains of sand, no matter how close together they are, there exists an interval of space, there exists a sensing between sen
...more
Chad Post
Reason number #36 why I love Clarice Lispector:

"Holding someone's hand was always my idea of joy. Often before falling asleep--in that small struggle not to lose consciousness and enter the greater world--often, before having the courage to go toward the greatness of sleep, I pretend that someone is holding my hand and I go, go toward the enormous absence of form that is sleep. And when even then I can't find the courage, then I dream."
João Carlos
O livro “A Paixão Segundo G. H.” é a minha estreia literária com Clarice Lispector (1920 – 1997), escritora nascida na Ucrânia mas naturalizada brasileira.
Esta obra originalmente editada em 1964 suscitou e continua a suscitar uma gigantesca bibliografia, incluindo teses de licenciatura, mestrado ou doutoramento.
“A Paixão Segundo G. H.” é um livro denso, com uma escrita inovadora, de cariz poético, evidenciando um experimentalismo que nos obriga a ler e reler cada frase com uma atenção e uma disp
...more
Ben Loory
A world wholly alive has a Hellish power.

i am giving this book five stars, because five stars means "it was amazing," and this book was definitely amazing; i would say it was one of a kind. it wasn't what i'd call enjoyable, though-- or even, really, unenjoyable-- it just kind of was what it was, and was that 100%.


I keep looking, looking. Trying to understand. Try to give what I have gone through to someone else, and I don't know who, but I don't want to be alone with that experience. I don't kn
...more
Jim
How should it be called? Reflections on the death of a cockroach? Going into a room as a person and ... not exiting it? The Passion According to G.H. is a strange meditation on the nature of God, love, reality, nothingness, and language. To a person like me, who is vulnerable because a close friend I've known for forty-five years is dying in a hospice not two blocks from me, it hit me between the eyes with the force of a sledge hammer.

Clarice Lispector is a Ukrainian-born author who lived almos
...more
Bjorn
Life *is* me.

A woman is having breakfast, in her white suburban kitchen, a perfectly arranged home around a perfectly arranged life, "the witty elegance of my home comes from everything here being within quotation marks, I quote the world because it's neither me or mine." She has just gone through the end of an affair and some other stuff that will be mentioned later on, she's just fired her maid because she's realised that she loves cleaning, but everything's fine, really. She's an adult, she's
...more
Sofia
A paixão segundo G.H. é um livro denso cuja escrita me transmitiu um forte sentimento de angústia.
São evidentes os traços de experimentalismo e em muitas passagens do livro vinham-me à memória outros dois livros "O livro do Desassossego" de Fernando Pessoa e "A metamorfose" de Kafka.
No entanto, este livro não me conseguiu perturbar tanto quanto os outros dois e daí a classificação de 3 estrelas (3,5). No entanto, esta é uma opinião muito pessoal porque o livro é muito interessante e uma leitura
...more
Rose Gowen
Whoa.


Once, when I was 13, I saw a banana slug stretched out in all its glory on the patio of the apartment where I lived with my family. Adjacent to the patio was the kitchen; I went inside to get the salt. I poured some salt on the slug. I wanted to see what would happen; if it would be dramatic or violent.

As some people are able to make their tongues go from spatulate to more rope-shaped, the slug contracted and consolidated itself. It fizzed up. Over some days (I forget how many) it dried out
...more
Laura
This book reminds me of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Clarice was a Brazilian writer with a lot of existentialism in her books.

In Joselito's review, "I suspect Clarice Lispector copied here the style in Fernando Pessoa's "The Book of Disquiet" to produce this exasperating, introspective, highfalutin nonsense."

Another brilliant review is provided my dear friend K.D.
Rosa Ramôa
Uma mulher e uma barata*
Rachel
Amazing book that totally changed my perspective on, well, everything. Very "emo", very "what does it all mean?!?", but still very insightful and interesting. Totally different perspective on a much explored topic, and I appreciate the female (and somewhat female-centric) narration.
Opal McCarthy
Who, like me, knew that she had never changed shape since the time when they drew me on the cave rock (88)?

The cockroach and I are Hellishly free because our living matter is greater than we are, we are Hellishly free because my own life is so little containable within my body that I can’t even use it (115).

I pretend to sleep, but in the silence the horse breathes. It says nothing, but it breathes, it waits and breathes. …I know that the first drum on the mountain will make the night; I know tha
...more
Michael Vagnetti
Fiction, vivisected: a book with extra angles, like a page with three sides. Whatever's speaking here is working it out in real time. A muscular, athletically paced reading experience, like skiing near trees that are also skiing. One ends up with the word "splayed" sprayed on her goggles. This feature also gives off a connoisseur's halitosis, that may or may not become quaintly tolerable. It's like sharing someone's unedited, hot, driving, exhalation, and there's an arch-seriousness about it tha ...more
Chris
I don't mind difficult books or books that are more focused on language play than on plot or character development. But this book seems to try to create meaning out of nonsense. It's hard to say how much of this is based on the translation, which is studded with misused words and ungrammatical sentences. Lispector fills sentences with invented words like, "The world independed me," but does not create enough context for such words to achieve any kind of meaning. What we're left with is something ...more
missy jean
An entire book about a woman alone in a room trying to decide whether or not to eat a cockroach may not be most people's cup of tea and there is nothing wrong with that. I was riveted, though; I couldn't look away from the inside of the narrator's head and the inside of that white room and that cockroach's glittering eyes.
Bruno Ribeiro
"Por que teria eu nojo da massa que saía da barata? não bebera eu do branco leite que é líquida massa materna? e ao beber a coisa de que era feita a minha mãe, não havia eu chamado, sem nome, de amor?"
Domhnall
A meditation on the meaning of life, perhaps. Some excellent imagery as the book proceeds helps to compensate for a tedious start. Slow moving and at times disturbing. On balance I was not satisfied with the ideas expressed here and found the intrusion of God in some late chapters to be gratuitous and unconvincing. I worry about any writer seeking to speak like a mystic precisely because this can be all too successful as a device. It is thought provoking and at times very potent all the same, ce ...more
Jon
If approached from an existentialist mindset this kind of thing may awaken the passions of the authentic self struggling against substance. Having jettisoned that a while ago, I found it to be really well-done, but quite a waste of intellectual energy. Had I read this at a different point in my life I would've jizzed all over it.
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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
More about Clarice Lispector...
The Hour of the Star Near to the Wild Heart Felicidade Clandestina Family Ties The Stream Of Life

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“The world's continual breathing is what we hear and call silence.” 74 likes
“And I want to be held down. I don't know what to do with the horrifying freedom that can destroy me.” 55 likes
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