The entire book is only a fragment. (This is less abstract than it sounds: Aren’t we all born into the middle of someone else’s life?) ... As always, Lispector’s plot bows to her form. This shard of language — reflective, serrated — is about a woman finding endlessness in the early morning, a warm body, the empty sea ... On the surface, An Apprenticeship elegantly translated here by Stefan Tobler, is an acute romance, between Lóri, a suicidal elementary schoolteacher, and her withholding, esoteric crush, a philosophy professor named Ulisses. But it is also a spiritual treatise, a didactic dialogue between not-yet lovers ... Lispector unravels existential knots within the daily tangles of femininity ... Lispector’s writing is like glass: granular detail turned to liquid under impossible heat, and then hardened and crystallized into a wet, new thing.
...masterfully translated ... the book advances at its own pace, in a series of encounters that overlapping with long, poetic passages in which Lóri reflects on her own existence ... Lóri feasts vampirically on the apparent wisdom of Ulisses. Her movements as a young émigré in Rio, like those of many of Lispector’s characters, follow a logic of intellectual curiosity ... If you choose to read the works of Taubes and Lispector, you should do it with a helmet on ... Books like Divorcing and An Apprenticeship offer unresolved, sometimes frustrating narratives that, like the relationships depicted in their pages, demand more from us than they seem willing to give in return.
...dense and singular ... The purpose of their apprenticeship is never expressed, though one of Lóri’s goals is to feel 'alive through pleasure' instead of pain, and Heti’s revealing afterword leaves the reader with much to chew on. This deep immersion into the vicissitudes of love will delight Lispector devotees.