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Clarice Lispector: A paixão segundo G.H. (The Passion according to G.H.)

This is a book like any other book, Lispector tells us in the foreword but, of course, it is not. It has been said that Kafka is a major influence on Lispector and this book shows it. The anonymous heroine designated, in kafkaesque fashion, only by her initials, was a reasonably happy and rational human being, living in an elegant apartment, with a maid, a woman of grace and generosity, as she describes herself. One day, when the maid is away, she explores her apartment and finds a cockroach. Initially, it just an ordinary cockroach, though G.H., who considers herself an expert on cockroaches, estimates that it is an old one. In itself, it is not frightening, a quotidian evil, as one critic has intelligently called it. But it takes on enormous dimensions and dominates her life and thoughts ( For within myself I saw what Hell was like.) The rest of the book is G.H.’s attempt to come to terms with the cockroach and her life, which Lispector describes in a wonderfully poetic monologue by G.H., both in terms of her use of language, which she does masterfully, but also skillfully juxtaposing the human condition with what can only be described as cockroachness. And, as with her other books, you are left wondering, how can life go on as before?

Publishing history

First published 1964 by Editôra do Autor; revised edition published 1968 by Editôra Sabía Ltda
First published in English 1988 by University of Minnesota Press