Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Passion According to G. H. can be connected to two intellectual currents of the period. The first was the rising prominence of “liberation theology” in Latin America. This theology was a Christianity, largely Catholic, that had become more concerned with social justice and trying to ensure the poor an adequate life than with getting them to take the sacraments and register doctrinal purity. This religious trend partook of some of the spirit of the Cuban revolution and of the urban guerrillas who fought corrupt dictators in many South and Central American countries, though it differed fundamentally from these movements in choice of means. Where the guerrillas depended on firepower, the liberation church eschewed violence in favor of preaching and having its leaders set examples of simple, dignified living in the communities of the impoverished. Though Lispector does not directly promote such ideas in her book, she shows she is influenced by them in her double act of translation. She places a woman’s moment of life-shattering vision in a mundane setting, and she drops religious phraseology in favor of everyday language. She translates a moment from specialized religious experience to place it in the common stream of life. By this tactic, she follows the wave of liberation theology in an insistence on the relevance and worldliness of spiritual concerns.

Second, Lispector is inspired by continental existentialism, to which she had been...

(The entire section is 492 words.)