Writer and translator Edgar Garbelotto speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his short story “A Fourteen-Hour Lesson in Theosophy,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine. The story imagines the final hours of author Clarice Lispector’s life. In this conversation, Garbelotto talks about the process of fictionalizing a real person and bringing her to life in the streets of Rio. Garbelotto also discusses the experience of writing and translating in English, which is his second language, and the way that experience has changed his approach to writing original work. Portuguese is a more playful, allegorical language than English, Garbelotto says, and he’s learned to approach each language differently.
Podcast: Edgar Garbelotto on “A Fourteen-Hour Lesson in Theosophy”
“I write and that way rid myself of me and then at last I can rest.”
—Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life
1:05 a.m.: The rain starts. I arrive; so close to her I can breathe the rain mixed with the sour smell of her scalp.
1:13 a.m.: Fighting against the slowdown of the pills, C sits in front of the dressing table and hates what she sees: an ancient face with new furrows, an aged reflection of whom she thought she still was, a worsened version of herself. She can’t leave the house tomorrow as she is now: swollen face, short eyelashes, brittle hair stuck to her scalp. Grey spots mark her pale forehead like stains on the face of a full moon—a reminder of the fire in the apartment that almost extinguished her years before.