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.
The enchantment of the story is irretrievable, like the expectation of glamor ... The shadow...Epicureanism casts is long and sweet: watching Lóri live with such vitality, mirrored in the style of Lispector’s prose, is intoxicating ... The novel hurtles towards the question of whether Ulisses and Lóri will ever get together. We readers don’t have to agree to ask it, or care for it being answered. The novel that begins with a comma and ends with a colon offers much more—Lispector’s fiction pushes us to become apprentices of language itself, to find pleasure in the cadences of subjectivity, and to seek out how our articulations of desire and pain weave our reality.