Hilda Hilst (1930–2004) was one of the greatest Brazilian writers of the twentieth century, but her books have languished untranslated, in part because of their formally radical nature. This translation of With My Dog-Eyes brings a crucial work from her oeuvre into English for the first time.
With My Dog-Eyes is an account of an unraveling—of sanity, of language . . . After experiencing a vision of what he calls “a clear-cut unhoped-for,” college professor Amós Keres struggles to reconcile himself with his life as a father, a husband, and a member of the university with its “meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, megalomanias.”
A stunning book by a master of the avant-garde.
This first English-language edition of Hilda Hilst's (The Obscene Madame D) tart 1986 novella aims to introduce the cult Brazilian writer to a wider audience. Translator Adam Morris's fine introduction provides the necessary context to appreciate Hilst, an author, poet, and playwright noted for having her love of dogs. Here she addresses "the nexus she believed existed between genius and madness, poetry and mathematics." The thin narrative concerns Amos Keres, a professor asked to take a leave of absence in part for pausing 15 minutes between sentences in class. Written in a stream of consciousness style where word associations create rhythms and suggest meanings, Hilst's lyrical little book ebbs and flows with vivid imagery, from "a surface of ice anchored to laughter" to a certain smile described by the "little crease on the side of a face." The experimental narrative is interrupted throughout with diverting short stories, haikus, and poetic digressions. A section on polyhedrons is clever, as is a couplet about Keres being a "doctor of numbers but starved of letters." There is even an amusing debate about a man about to be hanged wanting to catch some zzz's. Readers will enjoy this taste of Hilst's talent, but many will find themselves still hungry.