The Passion According to G.H., Clarice Lispector 

Rating: ★★★★

“Real life is so secret that not even I, who am dying of it, have been given the password, I am dying without knowing of what.”

I am not quite sure what I have just read. To be frank, I’m still processing the hazy, surreal thoughts of my subconscious that this book stirred. If you’re into a novel that has a distinct plot and narrative then this isn’t for you. A book that stays almost entirely in stream-of-consciousness prose, Lispector enables the reader to reflect on the protagonists’ own thoughts, requiring a focused and open mind. The only thing that could have made this book better was if I were able to read it unfiltered through translation.

The sculptress, known only as G.H, which are the initials monogrammed on her suitcases, is going through a metaphysical and existential crisis. Upon entering her maid’s room, she discovers a cockroach in the dark crevices of a cupboard, which triggers a sort of revelation inside her. Attempting to kill the cockroach by slamming the cupboard door, this moment is pivotal and climatic in the novel, opening up an entire new attitude toward her perspectives and notions of humanity.

To get things straight, this is all of the action that happens in the novel. The rest, is entirely thought. Whilst sometimes harsh and often unpleasant, the book is somewhat reminiscent of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, although whether this is deliberate I am unaware. Sentences are short and thought-provoking, and often I had to backtrack due to such heavily in-depth language – you definitely have to be in the right mindset to read this one. You ask questions you have never thought about before, such beautiful and descriptive language awakens something inside of you – I have such an urge to read more of Lispectors’ work.

An attempt to evoke the unsayable, Lispector has written something of a miracle. Its mesmerising prose feels almost audible; I forgot I was reading at parts because I was so invested in the novel. Its hypnotic effect was a feeling I had not felt so strongly from a book before. Existential aspects were familiar of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, which also took place over a short period of time, and also similarly (but a lot more violently) killed a man which triggered his thoughts. It seems apparent that perhaps deliberately parts of this novel seem so incomprehensible to the reader – as if Lispector is suggesting the power of language cannot even translate such universal thoughts and feelings.

The complexity of this novel still has me confused over a few aspects, and I hope to read it again to gain a new understanding; I have so much to say on this book and would love to write a second review. If you have the patience, and want some strange new thoughts hovering in your mind, this is the book to read. Filled to the brim with non-stop monologue and existential questions of life and death, The Passion According to G.H is a heavy, but rewarding read.

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