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Água Viva (New Directions Paperbook)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  3,791 ratings  ·  434 reviews

Lispector at her most philosophically radical.

A meditation on the nature of life and time, Água Viva (1973) shows Lispector discovering a new means of writing about herself, more deeply transforming her individual experience into a universal poetry. In a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically profound as Clarice Lispector’s, Água Viv
Kindle Edition, 105 pages
Published June 13th 2012 by New Directions (first published August 1973)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”I know that my gaze must be that of a primitive person surrendered completely to the world, primitive like the gods who only allow the broad strokes of good and evil and don’t want to know about good tangled up like hair in evil, evil that is good.”

 photo Clarice20Lispector_zpsctiohho0.jpg

There is an unnamed narrator, an artist who is turning his/her talents away from canvas and paint, and exchanging his/her brush for a pen to try and express himself/herself with words. Now that I finished the book I realize that I have no idea of
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For those who want to experience life
Shelves: favorites
I lose the identity of the world inside myself and exist without guarantees. I achieve whatever is achievable but I live the unachievable and the meaning of me and the world and you isn't obvious. It's fantastic, and I handle myself in these moments with immense delicacy. Is God a form of being:' the abstraction that materializes in the nature of all that exists:' My roots are in the divine shadows. Drowsy roots. Wavering in the dark shadows.

I am what I am,
I am sinful I am virtuous,
I am filth
Steven Godin
"A fantastical world surrounds me and is me. I hear the mad song of a little bird and crush butterflies between my fingers. I'm a fruit eaten away by a worm. And I await the orgasmic apocalypse. A dissonant throng of insects surrounds me, light of an oil lamp that I am. I then go too far in order to be. I'm in a trance. I penetrate the surrounding air. What a fever: I can't stop living. In this dense jungle of words that thickly wrap around whatever I feel and think and live and transform everyt ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brazil
Before you read this review: go find a version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and put it on. (I'm sure you have it someplace. John Cale's version is recommended, but just about anyone will do.)

Back? Good. And I guess now I'll have to explain what Cohen has to do with Lispector - I suppose it's possible that Cohen's read the book, but it's not like they're all that closely related (apart from the fact that the book opens with a cry of "hallelujah"). But what they have in common is that approach,
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this short book composed of fragments, Clarice Lispector seeks to create a language to capture the instances that comprise a life. It's a book about dissolving boundaries. Lispector looks to painting and music to provide her with the tools to understand creation and expression in the context of a lived life. The work she has crafted reads almost as a dreamscape, as she moves from meditation to meditation, exploring language, identity, flowers, animals, love, sex, religion:

"I tremble with plea
Lee Klein
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beguiling improvised abstractions about consciousness via short paragraphs about mirrors, flowers, horses, writing, being, painting perfume in the air, beatitude, joy, grace, how cats never laugh, always being born through thought, "is-ness," "it-ness," maybe best described/reduced as Beckettian Brazilian Beat prose-poetry? Unlike anything I've ever read -- much longer than its 88 pages. At times sophomoric, juvenile, ridiculous, superficial, zone-out-able, but then suddenly so much more, with p ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, novel, intense
Totally thin and plotless and long and tedious and it is the hardest Clarice Lispector book I've read so far but I still l-o-v-e it, especially when she gives me such warm closure at the end. How does she do it—take me to places where I don't want to go, opening me up, leaving me with so much for wonder. "Something like the memory of a tall monument that seems taller because it is a memory." Yes. I wouldn't carelessly share this book with friends or anything. I'm going to read all her work avail ...more
Jack Waters
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jack by: Kylee Hill
This is a book that I will return to at least once a year. The prose reminds me of Saul Williams’ poetry, although Saul was born a mere five years before Lispector died in 1977, so any thoughts of reincarnation do not hold in this particular instance.

A bricolage of paragraphs longing for understanding on the present moment are placed like Tibetan prayer flags in the work -- there seems to be a thread or current running throughout the pieces. Of course Água Viva means The Stream of Life, so she s
I think I am just not the right reader for Clarice Lispector. It's my second go at her, and while I can see, intellectually, the point of writing like this, I just fundamentally do not enjoy reading her; fundamentally, it comes down to a virtue slog.

I think part of the problem for me is that hyper-seriousness of the tone. While we can debate along with Pierre Desproges whether you really can laugh at anything -- I lean towards his view, but am still undecided -- the issues that come up in Lispe
Knick Knack
Oooof, that was mesmerising. Poetic. Ephemeral. Felt like a trance.
Ben Winch
Sorry Clarice, no dice. I wanted to like it, and I'm not opposed to structureless rhapsody per se, but Leaves of Grass (or even its introverted modernist reflection) this ain't. At first, it's true, the fact that it didn't actually annoy me - when it so easily could have - was a selling point. And I appreciated the suggestion that it should be read quickly, from afar, without too intense a focus. For a while, it kind of worked. Maybe a rereading will help. Maybe its having inspired zero exciteme ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
What is it?

- It is not a normal story book.
- It is not a normal fiction (though the official title is fiction).
- It is also not a normal non fiction book.
- It is not a normal book.

It is a book that explains/tries to explain/speaks the "essence of all beings." It can be said of a book that contains some unorganized ontological philosophical musings.....

The author explores the indefinable source of all life - the force that gives life to all beings - the 'life-force/life-energy' that makes eve
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you come to this text with the traditional prejudice of sensation as a unit of experience, expecting the conventions of a novel, you will walk away complaining of noodling. Better to go fishing with one's own hands, you'll say.

If you come to this text with wool socks and a cinnamon array forming the coffee skin, expecting the new ways of looking of poetry, you will shrink from the occasional awkwardnesses. Better to go fishing with one's own hands, you'll say.

However, if you swim the text,
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Água Viva is a novel of ideas. It is not, however, a novel of ideas like Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being that retains the conventions of character and plot. Água Viva is devoid of characters and plot (although some readers may consider the author herself to be a character, and her efforts to "capture the present" to be a plot.) For this reason, I would sooner compare Água Viva to John Berger's And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos , Annie Dillard's The Writing Life ...more
This book articulates many intimate perceptions I previously lacked words for, and in other places she states the obvious recklessly or with intense interest, which furthers my attraction to her work. I made the mistake of reading other Goodreads reviews and felt a little sick. I won't say that other do not get this book but that I certainly know nothing. I will like this book in my ignorance then. I don't read for "plot." I don't understand why why anyone reads at all for that vulgar device som ...more
Chris Chapman
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zz-yr-2020
What to write about this book? I prefer to refer you to the quotes in my updates. It has to be read almost without thinking. Like meditating. The more the way you read the book approximates the way she describes the act of writing / painting, the better. I had to read the last 10 pages out loud.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
despite an illuminating introduction by biographer and series editor benjamin moser, água viva left me desiring a bit more from this slender work. lispector's prose is as radiant as always, yet without even the flimsiest of narrative structures to support and lend balance to her often-challenging syntactical structure, the writing in água viva has little to cohere to. it is not so much lispector's lack of plot that makes this book arduous (straying, at times, precipitously close to tedious), but ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was so good ❤
Ruxandra Gîdei

I'm actually impressed with myself for having managed to get to the end. This novella felt just like an interminable, horrible blog post – the way I see it, Lispector is trying way too hard to sound poetic and deep but ends up writing terrible and cringy passages most of the time.

See for yourself:

“No. It’s not easy. But it “is.” I ate my own placenta so as not to have to eat for four days. To have milk to give you. Milk is a “this.” And no one
Marc Nash
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine you had a palette with all the words of the dictionary on it and you dabbed your paint and started applying and blending the words to the canvas. That's kind of what this book is, a meditation on life, death, time and art as a painter attempts to interrogate herself as an artist but now using words for her medium. The language is at turns breathtakingly achingly beautiful but also breathless as another paragraph quickly follows up to batter you around the head with its ideas and images. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a read!

It’s kind of surrealist and strange feeling, as if you’d enter a rambling mind of someone else during their many states. The author has high-level awareness of nature and feelings she experiences. But this writing is so much more. Its is an attempt to describe the indescribable. It is poetic, ethereal, but so human. Philosophical considerations are being mixed with poetic thought-feelings, which throws you in some kind of neurotic ease (as paradoxical as it sounds).

At moments, she t
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the market for some rambling unmitigated narcissism? Well take a seat, sonny; have I got the book for you.

Listen. I want to like Clarice Lispector. I keep trying. But for every moment of legitimate brilliance, sparkling clarity, or that thing where an author reads your thoughts way too well...there are TEN moments like this:

"Now is the domain of now."

"Are the facts of life lemon on the oyster? Does the oyster sleep?"

"I'm a heretic. No, that's not true. Or am I? But something exists."

and, para
Justin Evans
A fascinating attempt to write a philosophical 'novel,' and one which should appeal to readers of the Camuses and Satres as well as those searching for new forms! I say attempt, because I'm pretty sure this is a failed attempt! Lispector's translators all bemoan the difficulty of getting her idiosyncratic Portugese into English, and I have to think, from the two novels I've read, that nobody's succeeded, because this (and The Passion) both sound like over-awed teenagers who've just realised they ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The singer Cazuza read this book 100 times" boasts the forward and my goodness, that isn't nearly enough rereads for this book
Joey Shapiro
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the Seinfeld of Clarice Lispector’s bibliography bc it’s a book about nothing!! It made my brain hurt but I did think it was very beautiful, somewhere between a diary and a prose poem. The recurring idea of the book is that she’s trying to communicate something “beyond thought” by writing something more akin to a painting than a novel. I definitely liked Hour of the Star better just because it was so much more user-friendly but I’m really glad I read this + feel like I understand Clarice’s work ...more
This book is a literary triumph, but it is probably the most disordered of Clarice Lispector's writing I've come across. For one, the text isn't linear, and doesn't have constructed feel about it. The whole book is a study on internal monologue thought out loud. There's no story here, and there doesn't seem to be any form of external boundary (beginning, middle and end) but a lot of internal borders, a lot of starts and stops, losts and founds. There's no narrative order, more or less an organic ...more
Chad Post
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the bits I like:

"The text that I give you is not to be seen close up: it gains its secret previously invisible roundness when seen from a high-flying plane. Then you can divine the play of islands and see the channels and seas. Understand me: I write you an onomatopoeia, convulsion of language. I'm not transmitting to you a story but just words that live from sound."

"It suddenly occurred to me that you don't need order to live. There is no pattern to follow and the pattern itself doesn't
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was kind of peculiar, and a bit of a revelation. On one hand it is the adverse of any standard narrative. It could maybe be considered stream-of-consciousness, but even that description doesn't seem to suit this text, because it seems more concerned with the spiritual than the psychological. It isn't even that experimental or abstract; experiential is a better way of describing it. Lispector's Stream of Life is to be experienced as one would experience meditation or a religious servic ...more
Parth Jawale
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. Paint a fresco in adagio.
2. Eat your own placenta, for good things in life.
3. Read this as quickly as possible.
4. Don't take her too seriously here.
5. Wake up and get out of bed everyday, elastically.
6. Feel the martyrdom of inopportune sensuality, whatever that means.
7. Zerbino is an awful awful drink. Ugh.
8. Always die of health, not of illness.
9. In order to suffer less, grow a little dull.

Questions to be answered:
1. Would you describe yourself as kaleidoscopic?
2. Have you seen
Michael Vagnetti
One hardly can turn a page the same way again. A love story to the reader, in a kaleidoscopic rhapsody of calmly violent confessions.The narrator, a painter newly turning to words, has a neophyte's wonder, and gifts her writing with a kind of complex and searching beginner's luck. She palpates this fiction of multiple simultaneous metamorphoses, birthing between painting and words, between word and world, between author and reader, between body and air. Yes, there are mystifying tangents, and wr ...more
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Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - Água Viva 4 39 Feb 19, 2015 12:04AM  
Brain Pain: This topic has been closed to new comments. * Schedule for Discussions - Água Viva 1 23 Jan 18, 2015 06:12AM  
Brain Pain: * Questions, Resources, and General Banter - Agua Viva 1 18 Jan 18, 2015 06:08AM  

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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

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