If Lispector’s psychotic heroines careen towards Mars, Hilst’s Madame D, in her flight from the body’s “unparalleled glimmer”, implodes. Her god is too small, too obscene to halt her descent into Hell. This brief, lyrical and scalding account of a mind unhinged recalls the passionate urgency of Artaud and de Sade’s waking dreams in which sex and death are forever conjoined and love’s “vivid time” irretrievably lost.
Like her friend and admirer Clarice Lispector, Hilda Hilst was a passionate explorer of the sacred and the profane, the pure and the obscene, and shows, in this discomfiting, hypnotic work, just how rarely those categories are what they seem. The translation is excellent – what a rare relief.