In Clarice Lispector’s novella The Hour of The Star, an array of themes, including existentialism, meta-fiction, and mass-advertisement are encompassed in the tale of a young Brazilian girl, Macabea. I chose to write a letter outlining the merits of the novella with regard to the aforesaid themes, and why the novella deserves to be published. In The Hour of The Star, the narrator of the novella, Rodrigo S.M., creates an imaginary girl from the slums of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and masterfully shows us her miserable life in just a few pages of text. The protagonist is an impoverished maiden named Macabea. She is an uneducated girl who “had been born with a legacy of misfortune, a creature from the nowhere with the expression of someone who apologizes for occupying too much space” (Lispector 26). Macabea exists in the modern equivalent of a primeval person, living in her own world, unaware of her surroundings, using the radio commercials and cold coffee to satisfy her narrow needs. As Rodrigo S.M. narrates the story of Macabea, he includes personal insight at random times, and often includes small bursts of excitement during the climaxes in the novella. Rodrigo’s bursts of insight are typical of the meta-fiction novella: essentially, it is a work of fiction about fiction. Many High School syllabi do not include novels/novellas written in meta-fiction, but by exposing these young writers to many diverse forms of writing a writer can develop his or her writing techniques and habits much more. Also, there is always the possibility that this status-quo breaking type of fiction will fascinate young readers, and lead them to read other works of meta-fiction by authors such as Italo Calvino or Lispector. The traces of existentialism in The Hour of The Star elevate the work intellectually. Existentialism emphasizes the action of an individual in the midst of a mass-oriented world. By studying existential philosophers and icons such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche, a reader can understand the political and social message disguised by Clarice Lispector; the portrayal of poverty and the emphasis placed on the lower class. Lispector’s foundation is mainly emphasized by the various allusions made throughout her novella, from the soft-drink business monster Coca-Cola to the novel Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The purposes of the allusions are to highlight the existential theme of “the universe is uncaring.” The allusions also serve to show the reader the predicament of Macabea in her search for anything, whether it be a lover, or simply a cup of coffee.
In its entirety, the letter highlights the merits of Clarice Lispectors novella The Hour of The Star, and the reasons why it should be published.
To Whom It May Concern:
The Hour of The Star, a novella written by Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, is a masterpiece of Latin American literature and leading text in the philosophical field of existentialism. The novella is a departure from the rest of Lispector’s literature; this novel focuses directly on poverty and its effects in Brazilian culture and life. Lispector chooses to analyze her subject matter through her existentialist male narrator Rodrigo S.M, which helps her gain emotional detachment and allows her to speak through a male perspective. For the afore-mentioned reasons I am writing this letter outlining the merits of The Hour of The Star and the reason for its publication.
The Hour of The Star is often considered a questioning work for an average student scholar, or any scholar to analyze. For one, meta-fiction prose dominating the introduction of the novella is extremely difficult to comprehend and some are afraid this crucial section of the text may go misunderstood and therefore the reader misses an introduction crucial to full understanding of the text. Other arguments posed by critics mention the content of the book, specifically if young adults should be exposed to a character such as Macabea and the trials and problems she faces. I believe that The Hour of The Star should unquestionably be published worldwide because of the broad spectrum of topics, themes, and motifs covered in such a small novella.
The Hour of The Star is one of the ideal texts to study while studying the philosophy of existentialism. Not only is existentialism extremely important philosophical movement to study, but its effects can be analyzed when studying a broad spectrum of topics from this novella to mid-20th century aesthetics. The book covers existentialist principles as “the universe is uncaring”,” existence precedes essence”, and multiple others. The existentialist themes prevalent in The Hour of The Star help reveal the implied message of the novella; the portrayal of the lower class in Brazil and the emphasis placed on poverty. The tangibility of Lispector’s writing allows scholars, although not easily, to truly understand existentialism through a meta-fiction prose.
The superfluous themes and motifs running through The Hour of The Star support Lispectors main purpose, which is to explicitly reveal poverty and its effects on the people living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Motifs such as luxury and grace serve to highlight everything that the protagonist, Macabea is not. By using these motifs Lispector emphasizes the simplicity and dullness with which Macabea lives her life. In contrast, Macabea serves as the perfect foil for every other character in the book, drawing attention to what little things they have and hold dear, for Macabea has nothing.
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Due to the broad spectrum of topics, themes, and motifs covered in this novella, The Hour of The Star, unquestionably should be published in countries worldwide. This novella is an excellent resource for students and teachers to further their understanding of meta-fiction and existentialism. The Hour of The Star has the tangibility and ease to be analyzed through multiple philosophical lenses. Although Lispector’s work is difficult to comprehend the rewards which are reaped through the understanding of such a complex narrative and unmatched when compared to Latin American woman writers such as Clarice Lipector. This novella is an excellent addition to any library, anywhere around the world.
Word Count: 1, 126
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