Reading Hunger and Exhaustion in Clarice Lispector’s A Hora de Estrela

Exploring the Ecology of Women’s Work and Literary Production


  • Hannah Gillman University of Warwick



Metabolic Rift, Literary Production, Social Reproduction Theory, World-Literature


Coined by Karl Marx in Capital (1867), the “metabolic rift” or “ecological rift” model describes the cycle of extraction, exportation and exhaustion present in agricultural production and, in particular, highlights the unsustainability of this ecologically-unequal exchange. This article integrates world-literary theory, Social Reproduction Theory, and the model of the metabolic rift to explore how Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star (1977) illuminates the peripheralization of women within the capitalist mode of production. The increasing pressure on women to be producers causes contradictions in the protagonist’s materiality and exposes the pressures placed on writing—especially women's writing—to meet the expectations of literary production. The novel’s commodity consumption, crisis of social reproduction, and meta-narrational features become windows to view the women’s work and women’s narratives which simultaneously sustain and are exploited by the capitalist mode of production. By connecting these various threads, I suggest the ignored labor of social reproduction under capitalism signals a crisis of consumption and a loss of capitalistic futurity, alerting readers to the unsustainable nature of the current capitalist mode of production.


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How to Cite

Gillman, H. (2024). Reading Hunger and Exhaustion in Clarice Lispector’s A Hora de Estrela: Exploring the Ecology of Women’s Work and Literary Production. Journal of World-Systems Research, 30(1), 151–170.



Women in World-Literature: A Woman’s Work