ROBBING THE MOTHER: A BRAZILIAN WOMAN’S RESPONSE TO THE FEMALE BODY AS A CREATIVE SOURCE
According to professor and critic Alvaro Lins, famed author Clarice Lispector represented for Brazil “nosso primeiro romance dentro do espírito e da técnia de Joyce e Virginia Woolf” [our first romance within the spirit and technique of Joyce and Virginia Woolf (my translation)]. To this noted literary critic Alfredo Bosi adds, “e poderia ter acrescentado o nome de Faulkner” [and he could have attached the name of Faulkner (my translation)] (Bosi 424). Yet Lispector and Faulkner have never been closely compared and in fact, the association is not obvious. Faulkner wrote about the US South, Lispector wrote mostly about middle class women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In this paper, I compare Faulkner’s strong female characters such as Rosa Coldfield, Eula Varner and Addie Bundren, to the female protagonists of Lispector’s “Àgua Viva” and” Perto do Coração Selvagem” finding that in both the women destabilize the narration, moving beyond classic gender division of literal and figurative, semiotic and symbolic. Although they deal with similar themes of the mother as a creative source, the power of the body, and the blending of boundaries, Faulkner’s texts are ultimately about men’s reactions to these powerful women, while Lispector’s are about women. Yet, because of the similarities between the female characters, reading Lispector alongside Faulkner gives us a greater insight into his powerful female characters. Despite their position in a society desperate to control women’s bodies, characters like Caddy, Addie, and Joana demonstrate how fragile and artificial this control is. Femininity in narrative fails flat both when women are reduced to the body and when the body is ignored. Thus, through their evolving treatment of language, Faulkner and Lispector create new forms of discourse, making room for complex women who disrupt traditional patriarchal structures.
Faulkner, Lispector, language, female body
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