Lucrécia Neves is ready to marry.
Her suitors—soldierly Felipe, pensive Perseu,
dependable Mateus—are attracted to her tawdry not-quite-beauty, which is of a piece with São Geraldo, the rough-and-ready township she inhabits.
Civilization is on its way to this place, where wild horses still roam. As Lucrécia is tamed by marriage, São Geraldo gradually expels its horses; and as the town strives for the highest attainment it can conceive—a viaduct—it takes on the progressively more metropoli-tan manners that Lucrécia, with her vulgar ambitions, desires too. Yet it is precisely through this woman’s superficiality—her identification with the porcelain knickknacks in her mother’s parlor—that Clarice Lispector creates a profound and enigmatic meditation on “the mystery of the thing.”
Written in Europe shortly after Clarice Lispector’s own marriage, The Besieged City is a proving ground for the intricate language and the radical ideas that characterize one of her century’s greatest writers—and an ironic ode to the magnetism of the material.
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