Sylvia Molloy

No 14

Sylvia Molloy 

“I must dress, rise, & send my body out.
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
“He’s moved by a desire to describe in words exactly how she looks and speaks. Her hair and clothing. The copy of Swann’s Way she reads at lunchtime in the school cafeteria, with a dark French painting on the cover and a mint-coloured spine. Her long fingers turning the pages.
Sally Rooney, Normal People
Higo’s project consists in quoting a woman writer’s work through an object—a clothing item. A non-textual citation, a whirling and bold quote that might fail due to either being too obvious or too far fetched.
An overall is a kind of armor. It offers a pretty enclosed space where you can don and protect yourself. If you must dress, rise and send your body out, the overall is the solution.
Sylvia Molloy wrote novels and a few short books —beautiful to collect—that revolve around the autobiographical. Citas de lectura [Reading Quotes]  is one of them: seventy two pages published by Ampersand that gather some of the things Molloy had to say about books. She doesn’t speak from an academic perspective; rather, she speaks from a place of love.


Molloy is brilliant when it comes to details. Her sensitivity is enhanced through the observation of granularity. In love with the book-object, with the minds engaged in the act of writing, with certain incandescent words and inspiring readers, she writes these miniatures.


She recounts that when she moved to the United States, her books made the journey in a green, shock and weather resistant tin trunk. I keep wishing we could make a shock and weather-resistant overall. Since we can’t, we worked with a comfortable silhouette and a strong fabric. If we are to travel with little to no clothes and lots of books, as Sylvia advices, an overall will most certainly reinforce the stance of the strong woman who dares to set off with her house on her back.


Yiyun Li (2017) says “in order to learn how to read, any young mind should become infatuated with a book at least once”. This is entirely true. But I also adore the shamelessness with which Molloy confesses that the mere theatrics of reading, “the prestige that comes with seeing yourself and being seen by others with a book in your hand” are so alluring you can respond to them before even becoming interested in what’s inside the book.


Once again, within the realm of Higo's reading directory, I go back to Normal People. I think about Marianne and her long, elegant fingers turning the pages of Swann’s Way. I don’t care about her self-destructive traits, I want to be her, own that elegance, read Swann’s Way and run the risks of boredom (Sorry Proust!). And I go back to Molloy: falling in love with the theatrics of reading might also be an exquisite way of learning to read.



— Citas de lectura, Buenos Aires, Ampersand, 2018



Sylvia Molloy
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