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The Hour of the Star (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – February 17, 1992

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The narrative material of this short, almost weightless tale by the late Brazilian writer (19251977) is reminiscent of old-fashioned naturalism, but the intention is far from that. Macabea, a young woman from the backwoods, arrives in bewildering Rio. Homely, ignorant, without skills or experience, she lodges in a shabby tenement in a squalid red-light district. Her transient boyfriend, a strutting lout and sham, soon abandons her. After a time, Macabea is struck down by a Mercedes and killed: an obscure life, a banal death. The author's presence is continuously feltthe narrator-of-record is a mere front for itand it is here that the work goes awry. The nagging voice attempts to elevate Macabea's little life to nobility and religious significancebut to no avail. And the modish commentary on novelistic method amounts to little more than affectation.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“In less than one hundred pages, Clarice Lispector tells a brilliantly multi-faceted and searing story.” (Jesse Larsen - 500 Great Books by Women)

“Clarice Lispector is the premier Latin American woman prose writer of this century. She is studied by the scholars, but has never managed to reach the reading public. The Hour of the Star could change all that.” (The New York Times)

“An artist of vivid imagination. If her work is thoughtful and poetic, distinguished by touching insight and human sympathy, it is also full of irony and wild humor.” (Saturday Review)

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook (Book 733)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reissue edition (February 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811211908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811211901
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By K. Levin on March 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am an avid reader with many "favorites," but for years now, this is the book I call my Favorite.
"The Hour of the Star" is special because it works on all levels. The story is compelling. We feel we know the characters and we want to know what happens to them.
But the use of words is Lispector's genius-lyrical, evocative, and perfect.
This is the book I lend to artist friends to show them a masterpiece of words. Any aspiring author will find in "The Hour of the Star" proof that-yes! One can achieve writing in its highest form.
God bless my college professor who assigned this work. It provided me with my most inspired term paper ever, and it has benefited my personal and professional life.
(Because the book is so short, I was able to spend one afternoon on the beach with my future husband, reading it to him in its entirety. At least one of us wept.)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Renato Pereira on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This fantastic work analyzes the meaningless life of a pitiful character, Macabéia, who used to think that since she was alive, she had to live. Life was not something questionable for this character who would accept everything too easily. The whole story is a journey through Macabéia's existence, an everlasting search for the real significance of her living in this world. It is definitely a passionate narrative leading us into examining whether we truly know how to conduct our own lives before it's too late.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sam A. Mawn-Mahlau on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is really a very serious Nietzschean essay on Ontology, sans the uber-machismo but with a deft and well-meant humour, masquerading as a simple little story. Clarice Lispector, our author, is facing her death, and, working through a narrator who may or may not exist, looks into the eyes of a trod upon and anonymous young woman who may exist as an individual or a type and who may or may not be in the narrator's literal or figurative employ, and sees in those eyes her best answer to the questions of being and nothingness that so trouble the philosophical.

Set aside the Sartre, the Heidegger, the Wittgenstein, with all their big words (her narrator emphasizes repeatedly that he has banned big words). Forget about all the twisted logic used to figure out how we know about our own existence and what its purpose may be. If there is a reason, something more than pure brute instinct, for an ugly little waif from the poorest part of Brazil to exist, perhaps even to live, there is a reason for all of us to live. And so, in the midst of life in the mud, and, quite literally, death in the mud, Clarice gives us reason to live. And while she does this, she struggles to release us from the trap of a language that defines us. Each reader can figure out whether she succeeds. Success may or may not be important.

All of this is done through a style dominated by simple aphorisms (thus the Nietzschean - it's the only comparison I can think of) and a straightforward story line. No big words. Individually, her aphorisms are banal. Combined, they are profound.

Clarice Lispector weaves together metaphorical rags.

All I can say about the result: Wow.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Louis on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
A Brazilian friend recommended this book as one of the best novels Brazil had produced. On that basis I read it and was really quite taken by it. The book reads more like poetry than a novel. Every word is carefully chosen to create a desired effect or evoke a particular emotional response in the reader. The plays on words raise profound philosophical questions. This translation into English is adequate but not great. It reads much better in the original Portuguese. This book is not for everyone. If you love great literature and the craft of the novel, you will love this book. If you're looking for an exciting quick read in the style of a bestseller, you will be disappointed. This book is great but it's somewhat of an acquired taste... like a great opera, a fine poem, a sonnet of Shakespeare, etc.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By CT on May 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Don't dig into this book expecting something normal. Lispector wasn't a normal writer at all. She wasn't a normal woman. This book was written while her cancer in her uterus was eating her alive, and you can almost taste the angst from the narrator. Not that her other books are any different, but in here it feels even more authentic. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the narrator is ficticious as well. Under the name of Rodrigo S.M., Lispector slashes open her soul and reveals nothing, because that's what it is.
Do not read this book waiting for a story. It tells three stories, the first one being about Macabea. The second story is the narrator talking about his writing, and the craft. The third is the narrator talking about his life.
Some critics claim that Lispector is "existencialism for the masses" (as impossible as that may sound) because she avoids complex theories. She refused to read other existentialist authors, because they were too pompous. Lispector admits that there are no answers to her questions, but that absence does not make the questions dissappear. There are a couple of times where her train of thought is hard to follow, but they came very rarely, and the book is definitely worth it. Saying that she was riding on her reputation shows blatant lack of knowledge on her works. Every other book of hers is written in this sinuous manner, and much of the recognition she has in Brazil was attained shortly after her death, since her books never sold well. After reading this, I can't say I don't understand why. It's not a normal book.
It's hard to decide which part of this book is sadder, Macabea's pathetic existence or the Narrator's angst. But both are awesome. Just don't expect anything normal, and you'll love it.
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