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Hilda Hilst: The Body of the Text, a reading circle and seminar
February 22, 2020 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Join artist Lúcia Prancha, artist/scholar Patrícia Lino, and Jennifer Doyle in a reading circle and conversation celebrating the writings of the extraordinary writer Hilst Hilst (1930-2004). Often described as the Marquis de Sade of Brazil, her astonishing work takes up mysticism, insanity, embodiment, eroticism, and female sexual liberation. Hilst is one of the most important Portuguese language authors of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, her work is virtually unknown in our community.
We will read short excerpts from Letters from a Seducer, the second in a trilogy of texts which cut across the lines between the erotic and the pornographic. In a recent essay for The Paris Review, Valerie Stivers describes this work as “a melodic string of sounds, of freeing obscenity and silliness.” Attendees are welcome to read excerpts of Hilst’s writings here.
You can also read more about this text on her publisher’s website. There, you will find endorsements which suggest her importance to experimental writers today:
She is a novelist with the fecundity and multivocality of Joyce, with the precision and wit of Sarraute, and yet she is something new under the sun, the poet of “friezes, strips, joyful bands, columbombastic screams.” Maybe all women wonder what men would be like, without their posturing and wack, but it seems to me Hilst had more than an inkling….
Letters of a Seducer seduces the reader with all the strategies available to a fine writer: wit, wonderfully inventive language lushly captured by the translator, an intriguing story—and did I say sexuality that broils and bubbles along at a mad and marvelous intensity? This is a brilliant performance!”
I remain in awe of this book, stimulated through its powerfully rich and expansive arcade. John Keene’s beautiful translation of Hilda Hilst’s Letters from a Seducer couples the orgasmic with the writerly, the book edging between filth and feeling.