“The best one,” as Clarice Lispector called The Apple in the Dark, her famously intense 1961 novel
“It’s the best one,” Clarice Lispector remarked on the occasion of the publication of The Apple in the Dark: “I can’t define it, how it is, I can only say that it’s much better constructed than the previous ones.” A book in three chapters, with three central characters, The Apple in the Dark is in fact highly sculpted, while being chiefly a metaphysical book, and in this stunning new translation, the novel’s mysteries and allegories glow with a fresh scintillating light.
Martim, fleeing from a murder he believes he committed, plunges into the dark nocturnal jungle: stumbling along, in a state of both fear and wonder, eventually he comes to a remote, quiet ranch and finds work with the two women who own it. The women are tranquil enough before his arrival, but are affected by his radical mystery. Soaked through with Martim’s inner night (his soul is in the darkness where everything is created), the novel vibrates with his perpetual searching state of vigil. Often he feels close to an epiphany: “for the first time he was present in the moment in which whatever is happening is happening.” Yet such flashes flicker out, so he’s ever on the watch for “life to take on the dimensions of a destiny.”
In an interview, Lispector once said: “I am Martim.” As she puts it in The Apple in the Dark: “All I’ve got is hunger. And that unstable way of grasping an apple in the dark—without letting it fall.”
About the Author
Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), the greatest Brazilian writer of the twentieth century, has been called “astounding” (Rachel Kushner), “a penetrating genius” (Donna Seaman, Booklist), and “one of the twentieth century’s most mysterious writers” (Orhan Pamuk).
General editor of the new translations of Clarice Lispector’s complete works at New Directions, BENJAMIN MOSER is the author of Why This World: The Biography of Clarice Lispector, and Sontag: Her Life and Work, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His new book, The Upside-Down World: Meetings with the Dutch Masters, will be published in October.
The Apple in the Dark is a retelling, a reversal, a recasting of the creation myth: a very unlikely bestseller, it’s very, very different from anything else she ever wrote. If you put it between The Besieged City, which comes before it, and The Passion According to G. H., which comes after, you’ll see just how radically experimental she was: how little she repeated herself, how she ‘made it new’ every single time.
— Benjamin Moser
A fitting capstone to a remarkable publishing endeavor. — Sophia Stewart - The Millions
An experimental novel about becoming, existing, and being remade: seductive. — Kirkus Reviews
May we all, after reading The Apple in the Dark, ‘stand in the calm profundity of the mystery.
— Carlos Valladares - Frieze
This existential epic of a desperate criminal…stands among Lispector’s finest and most enigmatic achievements. — Publishers Weekly (starred)
"What in other hands might make for the premise behind a noir novel, Clarice Lispector uses to explore metaphysical questions of being, of existence expressed in a coiling language in which concrete nouns torque into abstract conceptions pushing sense to the limits of coherence…The Apple in the Dark represents Lispector at the height of her creative powers.” — Tom Bowden - The Book Beat