The Miracle of the Ordinary: Literary Epiphany in Virginia Woolf and Clarice Lispector Author(s): Terry L.

Palls Source: Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Summer, 1984), pp. 63-78 Published by: University of Wisconsin Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3513078 Accessed: 23/07/2009 16:33
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The

Miracle

of

the

Ordinary: Lispector

Literary Epiphany in Virginia
Woolf
and

Clarice

Terry L. Palls
An artist's is determined style by the manner in which he or devices of the medium. In most cases she uses the technical these devices are not original or new; however, the uses to which they which is are put can be, and when they are, it is this originality the artist and which gives a peculiar stylistic unique identity from any other and which sets total creative that effort apart of unity within at the same time, endows it with a sense which, itself. The fiction Clarice Brazilian writer, contemporary prose Woolf and the English authoress, (1925-1977), Virginia Lispector and language, are (1882-1941), although separated space, by time, choice of medium--the novel and the short story-joined by their the "essence of being," and their with overriding preoccupation the use of a common which both women attempt to elucidate through similar device--the Yet, enough to although literary epiphany. warrant their remains distinctly comparison, stylistic identity which provides the basis for individual. It is this difference how this once again the question: comparative study which raises can an artist who shares the medium, preoccupation, and technical of another devices and achieve attain a artistic originality distinct remain this will question stylistic identity? Perhaps of the nature of epiphany in but possibly, an analysis unanswered, the basic one work by each of these writers will help to clarify issues involved in the question. The idea of epiphany use in literary is nothing new, yet its criticism in modern to describe an increasingly device frequent literature Since the changing concerns is.1 literature reflects of society to examine and the individual, it would be enlightening the reasons for the increasing in modern of this device importance fiction. in the Christian Epiphany in the Western world has its origins tradition: Paul's the prophon the road to Damascus, experience ets' of God, the Spanish mystics' visions encounters with God, the numerous conversion All of these moments in history. experiences

Luso-Brazilian Review XXI, 1 0024-7413/84/0063 ? 1984 by the Board of Regents of the of Wisconsin University System.

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of illumination or revelation stem from a mystical and experience have much in common with literary Both are individual, epiphany. intense moments which produce a new awareness which brief, sudden, or exhilarating. whereas the former However, may be painful are religious revelations in nature, of the self involve a denial and are thus the latter in origin and are worldly impersonal, of the since a distinct awareness intensely personal they produce life vis-a-vis and the surrounding world. self, usually this shift of focus revealed to the from the object Perhaps individual reflected of faith man's loss in the ability of God or to provide answers to the meaning of life and contributed religion to the secularization of the divinely moment, and perhaps inspired the subsequent loss of faith in reason and logic provided by which was substituted for religion of knowlas a source science, further the moment of revelation to the point edge, personalized in the twentieth that that of it is believed century knowledge life arises from within the individual with as he is confronted the experience of living. Life on more imporitself then takes and since life is a composite of experiences which often tance, have significance for the individual and which may appear only to others, trivial trivialities and the subjecacquire importance to them becomes source for the potential tive, personal response of the "essence awareness of being." instantaneous The stress falls on intuition then and emotion rather than on reason or divine revelation as a source of knowledge. The philosophical of modern man with the nature preoccupation and the meaning of experience in literaof reality as reflected linked ture is certainly to the above-mentioned however, factors; there is also another more technical than philosophiexplanation, which for also accounts the increased use of epiphany cal, by modern writers; that is the fiction of prose invasion by the and standards of Charles characteristics, concerns, poetry. Mauron explains these in his essay The concerns poetic succinctly Nature of Beauty in Art and Fiction. The simplest are states entities that of art admits literary one ought to say moments of the spirit. mind, or perhaps They we are what we are at a given the that moment; landscape the wonderful the sentiment which us, contemplate, agitates The the movement of a palm tree. rhythm of a respiration, with the interior, blends or rather there is external reality Those divisions, useful enough for the life only one reality. of action, into external and sentiment, are sensation, objects, It is the central of all lyric abolished. poetry.2 principle when the It of the is existentialist concerns philosophical writers are combined with the focus of the and the techniques that a new type of prose one in which the fiction poets emerges; nature of human existence is explored through complex subtly which focus on the internalization of external techniques reality new and its externalization in the form of an entirely subsequent a distillation to reflect the of both, in an attempt reality, of the Hence for the increasing other reason "nature being."

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of interest on the part of writers in apparently display insignifin the way that the psychoicant and trivial events--not objects did in the nineteenth realist authors since their logical century, are different--and of the concerns hence the increased appearance as a central in modern fiction. epiphany literary technique James Joyce first uses the to refer to a term "epiphany" He defines the specific type of prose genre in which he worked. term in Stephen Hero: he [Stephen] meant a sudden spiritual manifestaBy an epiphany whether in the vulgarity or of gesture or in a of speech tion, He believed memorable it was that phase of the mind itself. for the man of letters with extreme to record these epiphanies that themselves are the most delicate and they care, seeing of moments. evanescent From 1900-1904 of which Joyce wrote over seventy epiphanies, forty have survived. Robert Scholes out that many of these points in Joyce's He also in very modified form. reappear writings states that never to a literary used the term to refer Joyce in his excellent structural More recently, device.4 Morris Beja, in the Modern Novel, to a uses the term to refer study, Epiphany which he defines as follows: specific literary technique from some whether . . a sudden manifestation, spiritual of the mind--the or memorable scene, event, object, phase to the significance or manifestation out of proportion being relevance of whatever it.5 strictly logical produces the essence of Joyce's definition but he has Beja has retained extended it to describe a literary in the phenomenon which appears works of many modern writers. serves as the basis This definition for the discussion of epiphany in this article. as a literary has many positive functions: Epiphany technique as a structural a device it may mark climaxes, it may introduce flashback to provide or it may information, necessary background serve to integrate of a narrative unconnected threads seemingly it as Beja very accurately However, out, instantaneously. points has its limitations "Some of its tendencies--toward also. choppitoward interruption of the flow of the narrative, as well as ness, toward an occasional in the end seem on things that overemphasis no matter how we approach be carefully them--must insignificant controlled."6 Both writers under consideration in this study control this Woolf in her novel, To technique very well: Virginia the Lighthouse and Clarice in her collection of (1927), Lispector short stories, (1960).7 Family Ties it might seem inappropriate to discuss the element of Initially control when comparing short to a novel; these stories however, works were chosen as examples of the accomplished use of epiphany on familial because as a prototype they both focus relationships of society and the position of the within individual and it, because thirteen short stories constitute although Lispector's

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in themselves, entities as thirteen they can be considered aspects of a whole due to their In addithematic and stylistic unity. Woolf's novel one family and its concerns tion, although only the multiple "moments of vision" and the work's division friends, into three static parts give it an aura of discontinuity.8 The short in Brazil, fiction a form of prose in which story is an acknowledged did not achieve artist, Lispector recognition as an acceptable mode of literary the late until 1800s expression and it did not gain popularity this until century.9 among writers was identified the short the search for a with Initially story national which permeated the efforts identity literary throughout The regionalist with subject writers were more concerned country. matter than with World War II, new themes form. after However, and techniques and the writers the short began to influence story became less concerned with and more intersocial documentation ested in emphasizing the universal of the Brazilian: qualities local color disappeared, a disintegrating urban society with man's of loneliness sense and isolation came to the fore as a ensuing central thematic and new techniques were incorporated to issue, these in a universal better issues sense. express Consequently, the Brazilian short story its national boundaries today transcends while on the still of the essential focusing preoccupations and becomes members of its of of the mainstream society part literature with for the complex human its concern contemporary of existence. Time and space become less than questions important to the meaning of experience, and his the individual's response of being" for the "essence of central search becomes a matter Clarice short stories are representative importance. Lispector's of this new focus. in 1960 when Lispector published Family Ties (Lacos de famflia) to Brazil from abroad, the same preoccupation returned displays with of life the nature as Woolf's and both To the Lighthouse, use epiphanies of experience writers to explore the relationship to self-discovery and knowledge. In each work the family unit to its and situational as a contributes thematic and serves unity for society the interacor the world. In Woolf's novel metaphor tions and their friends at among the members of the Ramsay family home serve their vacation as the core for the development of the and in ten of Lispector's short central thirteen thesis, stories, of Since the family unit consists a family figures prominently. of varying members of both sexes, includes and may ages, people individuals of different include as does any given generations, and since a family are the biological ties which unite society, of the human condition which link similar to the characteristics man to his fellow man, it is a particularly metaphor appropriate for an exploration The of existence and being. of the essence "ties" in the title mentioned refer both of Lispector's work then, to familial ties Both and to those which bind all men together. a cosmic of writers vision of life convey by making the world in their nature an important factor works. However, whereas Woolf finds finds in the natural a world, harmony and order Lispector and disturbing in it. disruptive quality

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"The Daydreams of a Drunk In the first of Family Ties, story businessman wife of a successful Brazilian Woman," the Portuguese with her husband and one of his out to dinner goes important of the evening associates. she eats and drinks During the course she sees a beautiful too much, the associate makes a pass at her, and an a hat (she herself has not worn one), young woman wearing on her ample bosom. All of these occurrences fly alights annoying of emotional The next morning, in her. elicit a variety responses she suddenly becomes as she recalls the previous events, evening's deaf. momentarily one of her It was at this moment that she became deaf: She clapped the palm of her hand over her senses was missing. her which only made things . . . suddenly worse ear, filling the whirr of an elevator . . . life eardrum with suddenly One of movements. loud and magnified in its smallest becoming She two things: either all too well. she was deaf or hearing of spite reacted this new suggestion with a sensation against and annoyance, with a sigh of resigned "Drop dead," satiety. she said gently . . . defeated (FT, p. 35). on by of life This sudden awareness and its possibilities, brought whirr the intrusion world--the of a common sound from the outside of an elevator--is to remain "protected She prefers by annoying. the position she had attained in life" (FT, p. 33) as the wife of a successful even as she rejects businessman. Nevertheless, any other type of existence, aware that she has prostishe is clearly lines of the story tuted herself The last very by the choice. in a sudden indicate this: ". . . her vulgarity aptly exploded of affection: outburst she cried out, (FT, laughing" 'you slut', It is much more comfortable to remain within and secure p. 36). of reality the limits of the world she has created as an illusion in than to risk the disconcertingly inherent unknown possibilities the reality of life which she cannot control. in the next a housewife and "Love," Anna, Similarly story, in the content about her daily mother, activities, goes happily she is needed she has that this is the life and that knowledge seemed was "She to have that chosen. discovered everything of being a that each could be given capable perfected, thing harmonious life itself could be created appearance; by Man" (FT, while the tram home from her marketing, However, p. 38). riding she suddenly sees a blind man standing on the corner complacently As she stares at him she becomes so agitated chewing gum. by the She that she drops the eggs she is carrying and they break. sight associates the man's blindness from and the simple joy he derives her to which has permitted chewing gum with her own "blindness" is that her well ordered, existence assume, naively, uncomplicated After this moment when external in the form of "living." reality the blind intrudes outside her man, someone upon her family, she becomes coninternal her life, aware that world, although sidered to as be perfect is just and self-contained, by her

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Anna as the which them. broke when she dropped eggs fragile realizes her stop and that the tram has long ago passed suddenly down the street she gets off at the next corner, wanders aimlessly a botanical on one of the benches and into As she sits garden. her senses are assailed sound, and smell of the life by the sight, around her. she looked around her. their The branches Agitated swayed, on the ground. A sparrow foraged in the soil. shadows wavering And suddenly, in terror, she imagined into that she had fallen In the in an ambush. there was a secret garden activity which she was beginning . . . to penetrate progress As well as being this was a world to be devoured imaginary, one's and tulips. with a world of voluminous dahlias teeth, The trunks were pervaded embrace soft their by leafy parasites, Like the resistance it and clinging. that precedes surrender, the woman felt was fascinating; and it was fascinatdisgusted, ing (FT, p. 43). her children, Anna gathers Suddenly remembering up her purchases and hurriedly herself to returns home. There she slowly allows of her ordered existence and as get caught up again in the details the story "Before into bed, as if she were snuffing ends, getting she blew out that day's flame" a candle, She (FT, p. 48). tiny the her own comfortable, over has chosen artificial existence and challenges of "living." uncertainties, dangers, In "The Chicken," flies a hen destined for Sunday's dinner out of the house up onto the roof and is finally and brought caught In her excitement and fear she lays an egg and the family back. of her affecassumes that this act is an expression erroneously for them instead one for a chicken. tion of a completely natural and treat . . . her as a member of the family They spare her life "Until one day they killed her and ate her, and the years rolled on" (FT, p. 52). Until that often recalls the day the chicken sense of freedom she experienced when she flew to the exhilarating much as man cherishes the occasional moments top of the house, when he transcends Those the mundane reality of his existence. of 'living" and "being" "moments of vision" constitute the essence we adopt or which are assigned and not the playing out of roles to for us by society. The chicken's as a metaphor serves flight those occasional of the "essence moments of the awareness fleeting of life." "The Imitation of of the the Rose" describes a rejection of life in and living similar to that which appears challenges "Love" but with more serious housea childless results. Laura, who is painstakingly wife to recuperate from a nervous trying for perfecbreakdown caused by a confrontation between her desire tion and her inability the extreme to achieve this, contemplates of a vase of roses which she has bought at the market. As beauty in their she recalls her she delights and perfection, beauty in school with Kempis' ". . Imitation experience of Christ: of with the zeal a donkey she had read the book without under-

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but may God forgive that anyone who it, her, she had felt standing imitated Christ would be lost--lost in the light, but dangerously Christ was the worst lost. So too the (FT, p. 55). temptation" roses constitute a temptation because they remind her of her own and she resolves to send them to a friend at whose imperfections home she and her husband will be dining Even as she that evening. makes this decision she experiences a sense of loss she because the possibility has rejected of beauty in life the roses which She retreats into herself and when her husband comes represent. home from work he finds her sitting ". . . once more alert there, and tranquil the disturbing as if on [without beauty of the roses] a train. A train that had already There (FT, p. 72). departed" exists no longer the suspense and the anticipation of the "trip." is empty, the train The station is gone, and with it the moment of beauty. on an old woman's 89th birthday focuses "Happy Birthday" party. children As her and grandchildren the old sits arrive, lady at the head of the table. After and has eaten silently everyone the cake has been cut and devoured, she looks around at all of her "with senile a nest scorn. like of jostling progeny They looked and this was her family" At this moment she rats, (FT, p. 80). in them the bitter sees fruits of her lost youth and she becomes aware of the pasasge of time and of the inevitability of death. her To affirm but to protest also this existence, mortality in the human condition, inherent she spits on the floor. This act is her comment on the yearly of the day of her birth celebration as she observes her family, which, becomes a painful reaffirmation of her death. Her knowledge is the ultimate of life. knowledge "Death was her mystery" (FT, p. 87). "The Smallest Woman in the World" deals with reacsociety's to an anthropologist's tions of a tribe of pygmies in discovery As several Africa. in his families native the examine country of this woman, they each enpicture newspapers' tiny pregnant vision her as a member of their without ever considering family her as an individual. As the tiny pygmy woman stands in front of the anthropologist she suddenly smiles. It was a smile that only someone who does not speak can smile. A smile that the uncomfortable did not succeed in explorer And she went on enjoying her own gentle smile, classifying. she who was not being devoured the [by the Bantus who netted for Not to be devoured is the most perfect food]. pygmies sentiment. Not to be devoured of a is the secret objective whole existence (FT, p. 94). To be an individual in the midst of conformity is to be as unique as the smallest woman in the world and to experience a personal moment of knowledge, the knowledge of what it means to be alive. Yet in all of her uniqueness, she is the same as other women, she is about to have a child, about to endow another with life. one of the paradoxes Therein lies of the "essence of being." In "The Dinner," a man dining alone in a restaurant looks up and sees another man come into the room. "His appearance

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a man in his sixties, with grey hair, tall, suggested corpulent, the and powerful On one finger hands. ring bushy eyebrows, his power. He sat down, broad and solid" (FT, p. 96). symbolizing As the old gentleman courses of his the various proceeds through the observer becomes aware of the minute dinner, increasingly facial which muscular and gestures contractions, contortions, He subsequently accompany the act of eating. experiences compasmost basic and nausea this as he contemplates sion, disgust, animal act of survival. After the gentleman the observer leaves, says: But I am still a man. When I have been betrayed and slaughtered, when someone has or I have lost the best of my possessions, gone away forever, or when I have learned that I am about to die--I I do not eat. have not yet attained this this this ruin. I edifice, power, I reject the meat and its blood push away my plate, (FT, p. 101). The rejection of the flesh--meat the affirmation of and blood--and the spirit, of the apparently about brought by the observance an awareness of trivial act of eating, in the observer produces what sets man apart from animals--the of being." "essence from of a young girl's transition "Preciousness" is the story her incorporation the world, and her to adulthood, into puberty loss of anonymity with the acquisition of an identity as a ensuing As on many other mornings, her home a young girl leaves woman. and goes to take the bus to school, look that no one will hoping at her so that of identity. in her lack she can remain secure this morning on her way to the bus, she meets two youths However, on the street The and as they pass her, four hands touch her. in fear and she is left From boys flee momentarily paralyzed. this moment on she is home and that She returns different. at dinner demands a new pair of shoes. evening "I need some new shoes! a woman Mine make a lot of noise, can't walk on wooden heels, it attracts too much attention!" the egg be . . . There is an obscure that law which decrees And she until the chicken is born, a bird of fire. protected (FT, p. 113). got her new shoes Even though her new shoes not draw will will not make noise, to her, she has experienced attention the danger of living and she in the a child can no longer remain anonymous; she is no longer nest and She has been removed from the protective eyes of others. into life and living. incorporated the mysterious which exists "Family Ties" explores relationship between mother and child. Catherine is married and the mother of a small boy. Her mother has come to visit them and while the two of them are in the taxi which will take her mother to the train to return home, there is a sudden stop and Catherine and her mother are thrown into contact. at this moment of physical Suddenly,

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Catherine recalls which she had long forgotten, intimacy physical "the days when she belonged to a father and a mother" (FT, p. From this She are different. moment of awareness 116). things realizes On her that what she thought is still there. was lost on the train, at her mother leaves she looks way back home after around her was so tender ". . . everything things differently: the dirty and alive, the old tram cars, street, orange peel on the . ." (FT, p. 119). She becomes aware of the privipavements--. home she takes her and upon returning lege and power of motherhood from the window. son for a walk as her husband watches the child he watched his wife leading Preoccupied, away and he that feared at this moment, when they were both beyond his she son . . . but what? transmit to their reach, might this child is still he "Catherine", "Catherine, thought, her innocent!" At what moment was it that a mother, clasping forever of life that would descend child, gave him this prison man (FT, p. 122). upon the future both The mysterious mother and child is between relationship forever and terrifying them together it binds because joyous or for better without as all men are linked choice, together, just of their for worse, human condition. by the inexorability with "The Beginnings of a Fortune," like deals "Preciousness," of of is the life. Arthur an adolescent's nature discovery in the dining room with his parents one morning. sitting The veranda was open but the cool air had congealed outside from the garden, as if any influx and nothing entered might had disturb the harmony. colored flies Only some brightly over the sugar bowl into the dining room and hovered penetrated (FT, p. 125). the of these stories and seem to represent Flies appear in several and undesirable of the external world into an intrusion persistent and seemingly secure around the enclosed area (the hovering fly on the bosom of the fly which settles cake in "Happy Brithday," referthe lady in "The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman," the repeated the In this case the flies are like ences to insects in "Love"). for money. that Arthur makes of his parents requests persistent of of things He has become aware that is a sign the possession of adulthood, the link and in his mind money represents identity, In the course of his normal day at between childhood and manhood. ambivalent with his his he discloses school friends, feelings he wants it. about money: to have it but he resents spending it looks the moment somebody has any money, ". . .well as if and to comes on the scene everyone ready to help you spend it, resentment This show you how to get rid of it" (FT, p. 129). to he has taken a girl toward spending money surfaces again after He begins to friend. with money he borrows from his the movies he calls feel that the girl has exploited him and in his thoughts decides that what he likes her an "ungrateful Arthur wretch."

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of being, about money is having it because it gives him a sense but he doesn't like it up because that means sharing part giving of himself. he knows He feels somewhat frustrated, since however, He has become in order to get things that he must spend money. is life nature of the human condition: aware of the paradoxical others. with and communication of both a sense individuality with others. can only be achieved through interaction Identity Sao in in an important factor are also Others "Mystery takes of men into in which the fall Cristovao," place knowledge A family has laboriously is revealed. of life and the mystery own paradise: a peaceful, its constructed harmonious, ordered, deft world with quick, this world. and secure Lispector paints its destruction. brushstrokes and even foreshadows beside the with tall, erect On an autumn evening, hyacinths room of a house was lit the dining up and peaceful. windowpane, the for a moment, motionless Around the father, table, three and a slender mother, nineteengrandmother, children, The cool air of Sao Cristovao year-old girl. perfumed night was in no sense dangerous, but the way in which the members of inside the house precluded were grouped the household everyon such a cool circle an intimate May family thing except evening. the gathering: about There was nothing they had special while and they sat talking round the table, had dinner just so particuthe light. What made the scene circled mosquitoes so relaxed, there of everyone and the expression larly complete at almost after one could was the fact that feel, many years of this the progress (FT, pp. 133-134). family long last, still-life verbal of insects in this the inclusion Once again world into of the outside intrusion the annoying portends painting interior constructed this harmony. carefully to bed and when they have all After dinner the family goes a costumes in bizarre fallen three boys dressed (a rooster, asleep maleness and a knight with a demon's all face), bull, suggesting the house on their and virility, They way to a party. approach As to wear. decide to enter the garden to pluck three hyacinths a for the most perfect flower the "rooster" reaches they detect movement at one of the windows and look up. by fear, Paralyzed each and the girl at the window confront the three masqueraders other in silence. other. at each stood the masqueraders Paralyzed, peering autumn evening of four The simple on that encounter masks and still then others, seemed to have touched deep recesses, had it not been for the moment in the garden, others which, forever would have remained with this perfume which is in the which fate had four natures air and in the immanence of those fate same precise the hour and place--the designated, assigning had come from reality, of a falling These four, star. having an autumn evening to the possibilities become subject possesses

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in Sao Cristovao. each the hoarse Each humid plant, pebble, of them exploiting the silent chaos in order to arrange toads--all in a better in that darkness themselves silently spot--everything into at each the ambush, they looked approached. Having fallen the nature of things had been surpassed and the other in fear: The rooster, the four figures each other with open wings. spied of the marvels the demon, and the girl's face had unraveled bull, the garden (FT, p. 136). At this moment the three boys jump over the garden wall and the from the window. surrounds retreats As her family screaming in the lighted hall, Her face grew small and bright--the whole laborious structure once more. But of her years had dissolved and she was a child of the family, to the horror a white in her rejuvenated image, on her forehead strand had appeared (FT, p. among the hairs 137). and the Paradise has been destroyed, the garden has been violated, a fragile from its broken stalk. hangs hyacinth Harmony is himself illusion created to insulate attempt by man in a futile the reality of life. against a man abandons his In "The Crime of the Mathematics Professor," so guilty about and then feels dog when he moves to another city a dead dog he to bury his crime by burying it that he attempts finds overlookon the street. As he stands alone on the hillside he realizes that one thing the dog's ing the town beside grave, nonethewhich separates to act; man from animals is his freedom in accepting this man must also assume responsiless, freedom, for these He is condemned to be free. As the story acts. bility thus the mathematics the strange unburies ends, dog, professor to face with face himself and achieving authenticity by coming his crime, the crime of being a man. accepting "The Buffalo," In the last a woman, scorned by her story, so she will not die of to hate lover, goes to the zoo to learn to But instead of the carnage love. and savagery she expected find there and communion. she finds union animals, among the bufwhen she is about to despair, she sees a solitary Finally, She stares into its eyes and, "terrified falo. by the hatred with her" the buffalo, watched which with hatred, (FT, p. tranquil to the ground, she sees "the entire she falls but not before 156), The sudden awareness that hatred (FT, p. 156). sky and a buffalo" in is a solitary and isolating learned emotion, only from others of yet another of living, of the experience is a discovery aspect of life and living. the human condition and the complex nature The single element most of these and unifying significant the epiphany. and in is one in each stories There is story with Beja's brief moments of definition, keeping they are intense, or objects awareness events which are triggered by very ordinary out of proportion of or logically irrelevant to the significance the awareness These same comments are spiritual they produce.

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To the Lighthouse; to Virginia Woolf's also novel, applicable as a both Lispector and Woolf use epiphanies however, although to of experience of the relationship means to produce an awareness are some there the "essence of being," and to explore living in the way in which each of them achieves differences fundamental this. it because in epiphany is an important element Jxternal reality a Woolf establishes the "moment of vision." is what triggers and then progresses of disorder, or complexity sense confusion, or and harmony through the use of inconsequential toward order which cause numerous epiphanies. or events trivial objects Mrs. Ramsay, But what have I done with thought my life? at all her place and looking at the head of the table, taking sit the plates circles on it. "William, by me," making white she said wearily, there." "over she said. They had "Lily," that--Paul she, budding romance] Rayley and Minta Doyle--[their At and knives. and plates long table only this--an infinitely in a heap, the far end, was her husband, down, all sitting She She did not know. She did not mind. What at? frowning. or how she had ever felt could not understand any emotion She had a sense of being past everything, for him. affection the soup, out of everything, as she helped through everything, or one one could be in it, as if there was an eddy--there--and It's all come to an could be out of it, and she was out of it. Charles while another, end, she thought, they came in one after she said--Augustus Carmichael-there, please," Tansley--"Sit for some and sat down. And meanwhile she waited, passively, one to answer her, for something to happen. But this is not a she thought, out soup, one says that thing, (TL, pp. ladling 125-126). are in direct the musings of the characters Often in this novel, of their contrast to the triviality actions. Mrs. Ramsay ponders in a specific order the meaning of her life while she seats people of at her table out soup. The orderly and ladles configuration on the table about the disorder the plates this question triggers in her life. when Mrs. occurs of this Another example ordering process She stops dinner. the room and her company after Ramsay leaves to ask herself: for a moment after she leaves Where are we all Is it good, is it bad, is it right or wrong? the shock of So she righted herself after going to? and so on. used the the event, and quite and incongruously, unconsciously her of the elm trees outside branches to help her stabilise The event Her world was changing: they were still. position. She All must be in order. had given her a sense of movement. and that must get that she thought, insensibly right right, of the trees; and now again of the dignity stillness, approving as the wind of the superb upward rise . . . of the elm branches them (TL, p. 169). raised

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There are innumerable moments like this which take place in the minds of nine of the characters, Mrs. Ramsay's, of all including which contribute to and culminate in the most important epiphany Briscoe has her when Lily at the end of the novel which occurs with artistic her painting. and finishes "vision" Lily's progress creative the work is the symbol of Woolf's her picture throughout her starts in the novel from disorder to harmony. Lily process it ten years of the book and finishes at the beginning painting later as the novel ends. for a second, as if she saw it clear With a sudden intensity, it was It was done; in the centre. she drew a line there, down her brush in extreme she thought, finished. Yes, laying I have had my vision (TL, p. 310). fatigue, of the and her completion It is significant that Lily's "vision" The painting with the last coincide words of the novel. painting of Lily's cumulative is the result (and the others') experiences when her essence able to capture of Mrs. Ramsay and she is finally at which point to the house after Mrs. Ramsay's death, she returns and a final are into ordered these experiences harmoniously as Woolf's of the essence of her being, awareness just complete of Mrs. Ramsay comof the figure novel is a literary depiction for the come together which finally posed of cumulative epiphanies of The nine peoples' reader experiences by the end of the book. of the work and out of the the fabric Mrs. Ramsay are woven into harmonious comes a single, confusion and complexity seeming a "moment of The reader then experiences an epiphany, entity. a new which parallels and which ultimately vision" produces Lily's of the nature of life--a made up of multiple awareness tapestry to form a whole. and complexly woven together threads inextricably comment on the nature the entire novel is Woolf's Simultaneously of art and the creative process. from to order, from disorder In contrast to Woolf's progression to harmony, and to the positive role of external confusion reality a sense of harmony and in this establishes process, Lispector intrudes which order in her stories external reality upon and of the the surface tension much as a water bug disturbs disrupts, of harmony to In other words, she progresses from a state water. and the means of transfrom simplicity to complexity confusion, an from one state to the other is a moment of awareness, portation with external contact individual's produced by the epiphany, but for the characters Oftentimes harmony is restored reality. is aware of the altered of this the reader nature harmony through he personally the epiphany has experienced. in whereas The fundamental difference then becomes that, which coincides novel the reader one epiphany Woolf's experiences he also in Lispector's with work, "vision," Lily's although of life after at one single awareness arrives about the complexity of of an accumulation the stories, it is the result completing he has experienced. thirteen "moments of awareness" is to Woolf nor Lispector It note that neither interesting

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interested in the creation so much as in of an individual appears the way in which life and that detailing person experiences The characters in Lispector's stories are all identified living. roles: with definite but in effect mother, son, daughter, wife, as individuals. Mrs. Ramsay, although they are not identifiable the central in Woolf's not so much is memorable novel, figure of her individual of what because traits but because personality the other characters and the reader of her as a result experience existence. An analysis of the relationship of these to the "moment figures of being" or epiphany and the ways in which both writers set up these moments stylistically an interesting into provides insight device. use they make of this The people the different literary in both works are drawn toward the moment of awareness through almost this occurs their whereas in senses; but, imperceptibly is often for this event by questions Woolf and the reader prepared "How such as "But what have I done with my life?" (TL, p. 125), could the Lord have made this world?" (TL, p. 98), "Who could help the "Where are we all going to?" (TL, p. 169), her?" (TL, p. 264), moment surtaces much more suddenly and intensely in Lispector's stories and the characters seldom ask themselves or muse questions about the significance of life. the moment stands Instead, by itself as a metaphor for the shocking which is inner awareness of two bodies each other Thus, the jostling experienced. against becomes in and of itself, as does seeing a blind man important a man eat, a hyacinth, into chewing gum, watching staring plucking the eyes of a buffalo, and hearing wooden heals echoing hollowly on the pavement. use of metaphor makes her epiphanies Lispector's much more intensely alike and reader experienced by character while Woolf's for similes and explanations makes hers preference more cerebral. The higher of intensity in Lispecdegree present tor's could be due to the fact is a the novel that epiphanies art form requiring more development but than a short story, longer it be that could also of the "moment of concept Lispector's vision" is that it is more disruptive, more shockmore jarring, in Woolf are more tranquil, more more clarifying, ing. Epiphanies integrative. The characters in FamiZy Ties to stimuli respond negatively in To the Lighthouse whereas those respond positively. Perhaps the reason for these in the singular focus differences lies each of these writers in these weltanworks. displays Lispector's is clearly For her the world is hostile existential.ll schauung to man, and the solitude, and terror he experiences when anguish, he is confronted with life and recognizes the essential Nothingness are what Lispector wishes to convey her epiphanies. through on the other to be less concerned with Woolf, hand, appears her view of life in illustrating and more interested expressing how man arrives at an awareness of the "essence of being" and the and contibetween death, meaning of life--the love, relationship The process then is more important work than in Woolf's nuity. the discovery in contrast, to be Lispecitself, which, appears tor's in FamiZy Ties. prime objective

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The use of epiphany and most as the central by both writers in these their device works minimizes separaliterary important and language. tion by time, each author achieves However, space, of influence a unique stylistic thus making the question identity, in this The stylistic both works immaterial case. similarities in the device exhibit arise from the inherent characteristics of like "at itself--the adverbs that repetition "suddenly," of characters' in and feelings moment"; the communication thoughts after the extensubordinate clauses "knew," "ignored"; "feared," sive use of indirect interior or narrated monologue monologue; for of trivial the use reflection; pauses temporal seemingly or statements a moment of transcendento produce events, scenes, tal the predominance of verbs in the past and past awareness; which and short or sentence sentences tenses; fragments perfect a choppy style. each woman impresses her Nevertheless, produce own individual she on her work by the focus literary personality to it and the use to which she puts epiphanies in order to imparts her particular Therefore, convey although any weltanschauung. artistic or technique device with it inherent carries given and may not be new or unique, the use to which a characteristics is what endows a work artist puts it may be, and this particular to the unique and what contributes with originality significantly of that artist. identity stylistic

NOTES
ISee Morris in the Modern Novel (Seattle: Beja, Epiphany of Irene Press, University 1971); Washington Chayes, Hendry Vol. Sewanee 54 (Summer, Review, 1946): "Joyce's Epiphanies," Robert Scholes, The Key to the 449-467; "Joyce and the Epiphany: Florence Vol. 72 (Winter, Sewanee Review, 1964):65-77; Labyrinth," "The Liturgy of the Epiphany L. Walzl, Season and the Epiphanies of Joyce," Publications Vol. of the Modern Language Association, 80 Robert Scholes and Florence (September, L. 1965):436-450; "The Epiphanies of Joyce," Walzl, Publications the Modern of Vol. 82 (March, 1967):152-154. Language Association, . . ., p. 126. 2Quoted in Morris Beja, Epiphany 3James Joyce, New Directions, Hero (New York: 1955), Stephen p. 211. 4Robert The Key to the and the Scholes, "Joyce Epiphany: Sewanee Review, Vol. 72 (Winter, 1964):65-77. Labyrinth," Morris Beja, Epiphany . . ., p. 18. 6Ibid., p. 22. I have used the following 7For this of these editions study works: Clarice trans. PonTies, Lispector, by Giovanni Family tieri & London: of Texas Press, (Austin VirUniversity 1972); To the Lighthouse Woolf, & Brace ginia (New York: Harcourt, Reference to material World, Inc., texts quoted from these 1955). be indicated in parentheses will by FT and TL respectively. 8Since there have been more studies done on Virginia Woolf's than on Clarice novel I collection of short stories, Lispector's

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have chosen to focus on the stories in Family Ties and compare the use of epiphany in them to Woolf's in use of the same technique of concentrating her novel instead on both works. equally For those interested in information on Virginia Woolf's novelin To the istic consult: Morris technique Beja, Lighthouse, . . ., "Virginia Woolf: Matches Struck in the Dark," pp. Epiphany David Daiches, New Directions, 112-148; Virginia Woolf (New York: Herbert Woolf and the Moment," The E. Francis, 1963); "Virginia Vol. Jean Guiguet, 16 (1960):139-151; Emory University Quarterly, Jean Stewart (New York & Woolf and Her Works, trans. Virginia London: Harcourt A. C. Hoffmann, "SubBrace Jovanovich, 1976); and Object and the Nature of Reality: The Dialectic of To ject the Lighthouse," Vol. in Literature and Language, Texas Studies "Woolf's No. 4 (Winter, Charles C. Hoffman, XIII, 1972):691-703; Item 13 (November, To the Lighthouse," The Explicator (Virginia), Mitchell A Study A. Leaska, Woolf's 1951); Lighthouse: Virginia in Critical Method (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970); James Naremore, The World Without A Self: Virginia Woolf and the Yale University Harvena Novel (New Haven & London: Press, 1973); Richter, Woolf: The Inward Voyage (Princeton University Virginia Vision Moments of Press, (New York & Woolf, 1970); Virginia London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976). 9For a more complete of the short discussion of the development in Brazil, see the following two articles E. story by Alexandrino Severino: "The Brazilian of a Changing Short Story: Reflections in Brazil in the Sixties, Riordan Roett (Nashville, ed., Society," Tennessee: Vanderbilt 1972), Press, 375-396; pp. University in the Development of the Brazilian Short Story," "Major Trends in Short Fiction, Studies Vol. VIII, No. 1 (Winter, 1971):199-208. see on Lispector's life and literary 10For information work, excellent book: A Escritura de Clarice Olga de Sa's Lispector Brazil: Editora Vozes Ltda., 1979). (Petropolis, to existenties 1lMore detailed information on Lispector's "The Drama of Exiscan be found in: tialism Giovanni Poi.tieri, tence in Lagos de Familia," Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. VIII, No. 1 (Winter, and Massaud Moises, "Clarice 1971):256-267; Lispector: Fiction and Cosmic Vision," in Short Fiction, Studies Vol. No. 1 (Winter, VIII, 1971):268-281.