Hilda Hilst

Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) was a Brazilian poet, playwright, and fiction writer. Daughter of Apolônio de Almeida Prado, a coffee farmer and journalist, and of Bedecilda Vaz Cardoso, Portuguese immigrant, Hilda was one of the most important literary voices in Brazil. Enigmatic, mystical, thought-provoking, Hilda surprises readers with the themes she used in her works, such as loneliness, death, love, madness, mysticism, erotic love, and she sought to portray a difficult relationship between God and man.

Hilda complained throughout her life about the neglect and distance from editors and the public, she had a lot to say and needed to be read. 

She was strongly influenced by James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, and this influence appears in themes and techniques that are recurrent in their work such as the flow of consciousness and fractured reality.

Her best friend was another great Brazilian writer, Lygia Fagundes Telles, and she hosted in her house several writers and artists, such as Bruno Tolentino and Caio Fernando Abreu. Casa do Sol, as it was called her house in Campinas, was a space thought and created by her to be an artist and writers’ retreat, and it was where she lived until her death, in 2004.

Hilda once said in an interview:

“Poetry is a divine gift, a physical fever. It is a kind of ecstasy that comes suddenly and ends suddenly ”.

“The Obscene Madame D” • Translation by Nathanael and Rachel Gontijo Araujo • Editora Bolha, Rio de Janeiro & Nightboat Books, New York