Family Ties Critical Overview
by Clarice Lispector

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Critical Overview

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

The short story ‘‘Family Ties’’ was first published in 1952 in a collection of Lispector's stories called Alguns contos (Stories), but it did not receive much notice. Eight years later, in 1960, Lispector re-published the story in Lacos de familia (Family Ties), along with other pieces, some already published and some new, all about family relationships. This time, her collection was reviewed favorably. In Luso-Brazilian Review, Rita Herman called Lacos de familia "a personal interpretation of some of the most pressing psychological problems of man in the contemporary western world. Liberty, despair, solitude, the incapacity to communicate, are the main themes that unite the separate stories into a definite configuration of the author's pessimistic perception of life.’’ However, since the book, like all of Lispector's original writings, was written in Portuguese, her audience was quite limited. A new translation into English by Giovanni Pontiero, Family Ties (1972), launched the collection into a wider literary market, where it was appraised highly. Bruce Cook of Review noted the work's ‘‘intense concentration,’’ and Lispector's book was cited, along with Guimarares Rosa, as a landmark of Brazilian literature in Contemporary Latin American Literature (1973). In general, the seventies found many of Lispector's works being translated into English as well as French, German, Spanish, and Czechoslovakian. With her work in the hands of a worldwide audience eager for texts with a feminist slant, Lispector's writing gained positive attention.

Lispector's writing career as a whole had taken off with the publication of her first novel, Close to the Savage Heart, in 1944, when she was just twenty-four. That semi-autobiographical novel won the Graca Aranha Prize and showed how Brazilian literature, according to Earl Fitz, ‘‘could benefit from such staples of modern fiction as the interior monologue; temporal dislocation; rejection of external orientation; structural fragmentation; and an emphasis on the ebb and flow of psychological, rather than chronological, time.’’ However, it would be another twenty-two years before the appearance of a book-length study of her, by Benedito Nunes (1966). He and other early critics noticed the metaphysical focus of Lispector's writing, especially the influence of Sartre and Camus. In 1979, with the publication of Vivre l'orange, feminist French critic Helene Cixous began a decade of promoting Lispector as a paradigm for ‘‘l'ecriture feminine.’’ Cixous found in her writing a feminine kind of ‘‘effacement of the subject,’’ which has to do with the power of tolerance and acceptance that she finds in Lispector's female characters. Cixous presented her poetic musings about Lispector in a series of lectures that introduced Lispector to a wide, international audience; the lectures have been transcribed in her book Readings with Clarice Lispector (1990). The first English biography of Lispector, by Earl Fitz, was published in...

(The entire section is 673 words.)