A Cidade Sitiada. Romance. [i.e. The Besieged City].

Rio de Janeiro, (1949).

Original brown full cloth with black lettering to spine. Wear to extremities. Internally browned. 

The rare first edition of Clarice Lispector's famous third novel, her fabulous "The Besieged City", which now counts as one of her greatest productions and one of the most important works of modern Brazilian literature.

In spite of now being considered one of the greatest modern authors, Clarice Lispector is a fairly recent discovery for most, and many of her most famous novels have only recently been translated into English for the first time.

"Seven decades after its original publication, Clarice Lispector's third novel - the story of a girl and the city her gaze reveals-is in English at last." (From the first English translation, 2019).

Clarice (1920-1977), as she is usually called by her many fans worldwide, is one of the most intriguing and revolutionizing authors of the 20th century. After having been re-discovered in Europe, she is now compared to the likes of Joyce, Kafka, and Steinbeck.
She was born in Ukraine, to Jewish parents, and moved to Brazil as an infant, amidst the disasters following WWI. She grew up in Recife and moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was in her teens. She was merely 23, when she published her first novel, "Near to the Wild Heart", which catapulted her into fame in her own country (Brazil).

Following her marriage to a Brazilian diplomat, she left the country in 1944 and spent the next 15 years in Europe and the United States. She continued, however, to publish all of her writings in Brazil.

Although immensely famous in Brazil, it was only after the Amrican writer Benjamin Moser published a biography of Clarice Lispector in 2009 that her works have become the object of an extensive project of retranslation, published by New Directions Publishing and Penguin Modern Classics, being the first Brazilian to enter the prestigious series.

Moser characterizes Lispector as "the most important Jewish writer in the world since Kafka".

"The Besieged City" was initially less well received in Brazil than her two previous publications, but is now considered one of her masterpieces, renowned for its radical ideas, novel language, mix of literary styles, and unusual subject matter.

"Written in Europe shortly after Clarice Lispector's own marriage, "The Besieged City" is a proving ground for the intricate language and the radical ideas that characterize one of her century's greatest writers - and an ironic ode to the magnetism of the material." (From the first English translation, 2019).

"The legendarily beautiful Clarice Lispector, tall and blonde, clad in the outspoken sunglasses and chunky jewelry of a grande dame of midcentury Rio de Janeiro, met our current definition of glamour. She spent years as a fashion journalist and knew how to look the part. But it is as much in the older sense of the word that Clarice Lispector is glamorous: as a caster of spells, literally enchanting, her nervous ghost haunting every branch of the Brazilian arts.

Her spell has grown unceasingly since her death. Then, in 1977, it would have seemed exaggerated to say she was her country's preëminent modern writer. Today, when it no longer does, questions of artistic importance are, to a certain extent, irrelevant. What matters is the magnetic love she inspires in those susceptible to her. For them, reading Clarice Lispector is one of the great emotional experiences of their lives. But her glamour is dangerous. "Be careful with Clarice," a friend told a reader decades ago, using the single name by which she is universally known. "It's not literature. It's witchcraft."

The connection between literature and witchcraft has long been an important part of the Clarice mythology. That mythology, with a powerful boost from the Internet, which magically transforms rumors into facts, has developed ramifications so baroque that it might today be called a minor branch of Brazilian literature. Circulating unstoppably online is an entire shadow oeuvre, generally trying, and failing, to sound profound, and breathing of passion. Online, too, Clarice has acquired a posthumous shadow body, as pictures of actresses portraying her are constantly reproduced in lieu of the original.

If the technology has changed its forms, the mythologizing itself is nothing new. Clarice Lispector became famous when, at the end of 1943, she published "Near to the Wild Heart." She was a student, barely twenty-three, from a poor immigrant background. Her first novel had such a tremendous impact that, one journalist wrote, "we have no memory of a more sensational debut, which lifted to such prominence a name that, until shortly before, had been completely unknown." But only a few weeks after that name was becoming known she left Rio with her husband, a diplomat. They would live abroad for almost two decades.

Though she made regular visits home, she would not return definitively until 1959. In that interval, legends flourished. Her odd foreign name became a subject of speculation-one critic suggested it might be a pseudonym-and others wondered whether she was, in fact, a man. Taken together, the legends reflect an uneasiness, a feeling that she was something other than she seemed.
New subjects require new language. Part of Clarice's odd grammar can be traced to the powerful influence of the Jewish mysticism that her father introduced her to. But another part of its strangeness can be attributed to her need to invent a tradition. As anyone who reads her stories from beginning to end will see, they are shot through by a ceaseless linguistic searching, a grammatical instability, that prevents them from being read too quickly.

"In painting as in music and literature," she wrote, "what is called abstract so often seems to me the figurative of a more delicate and difficult reality, less visible to the naked eye." As abstract painters sought to portray mental and emotional states without direct representation, and modern composers expanded traditional laws of harmony, Clarice undid reflexive patterns in grammar. She often had to remind readers that her "foreign" speech was not the result of her European birth or an ignorance of Portuguese.

Nor, needless to say, of the proper ways women presented themselves. As a professional fashion writer, she reveled in her characters' appearances. And then she dishevelled their dresses, smudged their mascara, deranged their hair, enchanting well-composed faces with the creepier glamour Sir Walter Scott described. With overturned words, she conjured an entire unknown world-conjuring, too, the unforgettable Clarice Lispector: a female Chekhov on the beaches of Guanabara." (Benjamin Moser in The New Yorker).

All of Clarice Lispector's works are scarce in the first editions - which were all printed in Rio de Janeiro - and hardly every appear on the market. 

Order-nr.: 60403

DKK 16.000,00