Hilda Hilst
A never-before-seen portrait of Hilda Hilst, made by Fernando Lemos, in 1954, which was kept for 60 years and was kindly given to the reportage by Brasileiros by the Portuguese photographer, a friend of the writer.

Last December, Mauro Munhoz, general director of Flip, the Festa Literária de Paraty, anticipated, in a press release, that the writer Hilda Hilst (1930 – 2004) will be the great honoree of the 2018 edition of the literary event. In 2017, the debut year of the current curator, Josélia Aguiar, Flip had a record of black writers and authors, a fact approved by the general public in one of the most celebrated recent editions.

In announcing the choice of Hilst as the successor of Lima Barreto in the pantheon of honorees, Munhoz praised the author’s provocative and inspiring character: “Like other Brazilian poets (Hilda), he read Brummond, Bandeira and Cabral, but he also read Fernando Pessoa, French Saint-John Perse and German Rainer Maria Rilke. The result is an innovative literature from the point of view of language that exerts, for example, a strong influence on the Brazilian dramaturgy scene today”, she said.

For those who wish to deepen their knowledge of Hilda Hilst's work and life, it is unnecessary, however, to wait until the end of July (Flip 2018 is scheduled to take place between the 25th and 29th): between the 9th and 30th this January, the Sesc Research and Training Center, based in São Paulo, is holding the course Hilda Hilst: present read more).

With weekly meetings on Tuesdays, the course will be taught by journalist and writer Flávio Aquistapace, who will address the late prose and rich legacy of Hilst, focusing on four of his titles tales of derision - Tgrotesque extolsLori Lamby's Pink NotebookLetters from a Seducer e rutile nothing.

In January 2014, Hilda Hilst was on the cover of issue 78 of the magazine Brazilian, in a report by Gonçalo Júnior, who brought previously unpublished photos, kindly provided by the Portuguese Fernando Lemos, a friend of the author. Read in full below.

There never was a woman like Hilda

She was beautiful and had all the men she wanted – except Marlon Brando. Writer and poet from São Paulo, labeled a pornographer and acclaimed by critics, she returns now, ten years after her death, in documentary, releases, re-releases and miniseries. Around here, close friends tell who was, in fact, Hilda Hilst.

by Gonçalo Junior 

Intelligent, secure, determined, independent, transgressive. Flirt, but discreet. never vulgar. Owner of a hypnotic beauty, few women had, like her, the men they wanted in their arms. Hilda Hilst, the Brazilian writer who is also known for her erotic books, died ten years ago, on February 4, 2004, at the age of 74.

She, who was a representative of high society, made an effort to be respected as a poet, received important awards, such as Anchieta (for the play Verdugo, one of eight he wrote between 1967-68), and Jabuti (for the volume of poems Songs of Loss and Preference) – in all, there were seven. However, her books were never a blockbuster. Not even when he set out on the path of eroticism, which resulted in masterpieces (Lori Lamby's Pink Notebook The Obscene Lady D., among others), provoked controversy, but did not generate large print runs. His pranks were said to be of such a high literary standard that consumers of the subject were not very interested.

In any case, Hilda had a peculiar way of looking at the world. “Sex and beauty were strictly the same thing for her, the only person of our generation who did not feel guilty about these issues”, says Jorge da Cunha Lima, 82, administrator, journalist and lawyer, one of the closest friends close to the writer throughout her life, who confesses to having been in love with her. “In the early 1950s, I was a young student, and she, already a writer, had a freedom that perplexed everyone.”

Truth. In addition to being beautiful, Hilda was a free spirited woman. She was fascinated by the opposite sex, but she didn't give in to passive approaches. Never. She followed her own style in which she dominated the scene. It was like that when she approached the one who would become her only husband. In the 1960s, Hilda would go home along Avenida Dr. Arnaldo, in São Paulo, when she saw a man at the last stop in front of Araçá Cemetery. She asked the driver to stop in front of the place and snapped: “Why do you go home by bus, when you can do it in a Mercedes?”. The man was the young sculptor Dante Casarini, who smiled and accepted the ride. First, they were lovers. Then wife and husband - in that order. One day, she would have said to Cunha Lima: “I am very happy to see that wonderful man, with a naked back, who comes back with a bunch of firewood on his back”.

passions and disappointments

Despite Cunha Lima's strong feelings, Hilda never hinted that she was aware of his interest. However, she told her friend about her love adventures, such as the one that led her to seduce the American actor Dean Martin and her regret for not having conquered Marlon Brando, an American icon of beauty and masculinity.

In the book I'm Beast When They Understand Me (Editora Globo), which gathers 20 conversations held with Hilda between 1952 and 2003, she returned to the subject with journalist Fernando José Karl: “I really wanted to meet Marlon Brando, I thought he was beautiful. So, I became Dean Martin's girlfriend, just to be close to Marlon. But I couldn't get that approach at all. I was forced to put up with Dean drunk for several days and, as he didn't introduce me to Marlon, I decided to go to the hotel where he was staying, gave the doorman a nice tip and asked his room number. I got there, knocked on the door, waited about ten minutes. Marlon Brando appeared in an extraordinary silk robe, accompanied by French actor Christian Marquand, who, years later, revealed to be his lover. I was accompanied by a friend, Marina de Vincenzi, and a little drunk. She told him she wanted to do an interview. But I just looked at his feet and didn't know what to say. Then he said: 'Just because you're pretty, do you think you can wake up a man at this time of night?' He was amused, very polite, but I couldn't get into the room and sleep with him. I was very disappointed. That night, again, he had chosen Marquand.”

His active demeanor, however, didn't bother him more than his talent for writing. But Hilda was never intimidated by any kind of criticism. “She was incredibly daring”, says Cunha Lima. Portuguese photographer Fernando Lemos, with whom she was also a friend, reaffirms: “Hilda received criticism less for her liberal, independent side, and more as a poet because she caused a lot of envy – in other poets, mainly.”

Hilda Hilst
The writer poses for the lens of Fernando Lemos, in a studio located on Rua Canuto do Val, in Santa Cecília, in 1958

Lemos, now 85 years old, produced, in 1954, a series of portraits of the writer, which remained unpublished for almost 60 years. She only saw the photos, which were never published, but were kept. One of them is published in this report, but all of them can be seen in the digital version of the Mário de Andrade Library magazine – the printed edition, number 69, not by chance with the title obscene, will come out in February.

When he took the photos, Lemos had been living in Brazil for a year. He had arrived from Lisbon with a reputation as a talented portraitist of important Portuguese names – politicians and artists, mainly. “When I landed in São Paulo, I tried to meet people connected to the arts and started going to places where everyone met regularly. That’s how I was introduced to Hilda.”

The meeting points were in the center of São Paulo, such as the Juão Sebastião Bar, cradle of bossa nova and where Chico Buarque made his first presentations, and the Livraria Jaraguá, by Alfredo Mesquita, the same person who directed the Escola de Arte Dramática for years. of São Paulo and encouraged Hilda to invade the beach of theatrical literature. There was also the Artists Club – a joke with the TV show Artists Club, from Tupi –, which was located in the basement of the Instituto dos Arquitetos do Brasil building, in Vila Buarque, and brought together the arts. “There, everyone danced, played, and dated”, says Lemos. He also remembers the Bar do Museu de Arte Moderna, which was located in the Assis Chateaubriand building, on Rua Sete de Abril, where film festivals and painting exhibitions were held. “Everyone had their whiskey bottle stashed away and could hang the bill.” Cunha Lima does not forget Livraria e Editora SAL, an acronym for Sociedade Amigos do Livro, which imported works from Europe and, in the late afternoons, held soirees with poems in French and shots of cognac. Impossible not to mention the Viennese bar. “In these places, everyone touched each other lightly”, reveals Cunha Lima.

In addition to Hilda, Lygia Fagundes Telles (an inseparable friend), Cunha Lima and Fernando Lemos were regulars at these groups, artists such as Paulo Vanzolini, Arnaldo Veloso Horta, Aldemir Martins, Massao Ohno, Rebolo Gonçalves. An effervescent time, no doubt.
Soon, Lemos and Hilda became very good friends. “I convinced her to do a rehearsal in the small studio, which she had just set up in the Santa Cecília neighborhood, in the central region of São Paulo. When you see the result, the impression is that there was not much originality on my part. But I did it that way, on purpose, to compose a portrait with the image I had imagined of a woman who had no sex appeal apparent, despite its elegance, but it had a protected but interesting beauty.” He refuses to say whether or not he had an affair with Hilda, but he doesn't deny anything. “She made some sonnets for me, they were more humorous verses than literary ones. A joke of ours.” With pride and nostalgia, she shows two of the many books signed by her friend. “To Fernando, all the love from before, from Hilda,” she wrote in a copy of Jubilee, Memory, Passion Novitiate, 1954. In the message of Flow-Phloem, 1970, she wrote: “To dear Fernando, the greatest friendship and tenderness of the old years”.

It's fact. Hilda had intense, immediate and brief contacts that, in the end, took her to a painful process: pulling out of the pain or torment of a closed relationship verses that described her emotions. Afterwards, she published them in books, always dedicated to the love she had gone. For the poet and journalist João Ricardo Barros, for example, she dedicated Lots of Love for a Beloved Lord, 1959. In his verses and prose, he did not make the slightest concession to the word. “She transformed the feeling or lost love into poetry ripped from the bottom of the soul”, says Cunha Lima.

The extraordinary

Hilda was born in Jaú, in the interior of São Paulo, on April 21, 1930, the daughter of Apolônio de Almeida Prado Hilst, a farmer and poet, and Bedecilda Vaz Cardoso, a housewife. The union did not work out and, as a girl, she went with her mother to Santos. At the age of 7, she received the news from her mother that her father suffered from schizophrenia and went to study as an boarding student at Colégio Santa Marcelina, in São Paulo. This school environment would evoke in the plays The Possession e mouse on the wall and in a poem: “The lovers in the room/The mice on the wall/The girl/In the long corridors of the school”. He later studied at Escola Mackenzie and Law at USP. But he never practiced the profession.

At age 20, he published his first book, Omen, and never stopped writing. However, her father's illness was always a strong ghost in her life. She believed that, having been spared the psychiatric disorder, she could have sick children. Therefore, she rejected motherhood – she would have had more than 15 abortions.

Hilda Hilst
In the 28 years she lived at Casa do Sol, in Campinas, Hilda (the only woman standing) received friends who stayed there for long periods, such as Caio Fernando Abreu and the inseparable Lygia Fagundes Telle

Despite her free spirit, Hilda was a guarded woman who didn't like to share her torments. “She lived with a certain anguish of the counterpart of her relationships, in the sense of everything she wanted to do and didn't have time or wasn't reciprocated. Not because of failure, but because of the completeness of the relationship, of what remained to be done”, says Lemos. Part of her drama lay in the tragedy that doomed her maddened father to live without any sense of reality. For Lemos, Hilda suffered from his situation, “who lived almost like a mad dog, caged in a small farm near Campinas”.

In 1966, after the death of her father, which left her in good financial condition, Hilda moved to a place 11 km from Campinas. She named the place Casa do Sol, built next to a century-old fig tree. Accompanied by her husband Dante Casarini, she was determined to concentrate on her writings. But far from the glamor of her youth, away from her friends and the bohemian life of São Paulo, Hilda began her journey to hell. She changed her mood constantly, fought with visitors and friends. She also got into the habit of trying to talk to the dead by radio frequency.

This story is told by São Paulo filmmaker Gabriela Greeb, who has been researching the life and work of the writer for the documentary for more than five years. Contact, Hilda Hilst Ask for Contact, scheduled for release in September this year. Filming began last December. Gabriela, who lived for a while at Casa do Sol, had access to files and documents, in addition to talking to friends and relatives, such as Edson Costa Duarte, who lived with Hilda for a long time. He also had access to the diaries of the plastic artist Jurandy Valença, a friend of Hilda's, in which he recounts the daily life of the house during the period in which he lived in Casa do Sol, which today houses letters and documents, in addition to three thousand books, a good part of them with notes.

The focus of the film, explains Gabriela, is to reproduce the atmosphere of Casa do Sol. It will be a creative documentary, not typical, from important collections, such as the more than one hundred tapes recorded with Hilda's voice, when trying to communicate with the dead. These are recordings made between 1976-78, in which she said: “Hilda Hilst wants to know about her friends in another dimension” or “Hilda Hilst asks for contact with the absurd”. She did these experiments influenced by the Swedish scientist, filmmaker and art critic Friedrich Jurgenson, who claimed that the dead needed to manifest themselves through off-air radio or TV frequencies, or the purring of cats. “The search for the dead was part of Hilda's desire to communicate in ways other than writing. She studied quantum physics so she wouldn't reach the other dimension stupid,” says Gabriela. “Hilda was extremely lucid and made every effort not to go crazy.” It is speculated that the writer's mother also suffered from schizophrenia.

It is worth remembering that Hilda started to have serious financial problems. Even to feed her dogs – she once housed 150 of them. The situation was only worse because the writer managed to retire from Unicamp – from 1986 onwards, she was part of Unicamp's Resident Artist Program, in which she talked to interested parties on topics related to creativity and imagination, historical and outstanding personalities.

other stories

Hilda died of ischemia, but she went through with what she loved most: writing with imagination. And, as she said, she set out in search of absolute silence. Before, however, she left the rights to her work in a will to Daniel Fuentes, son of José Moura Fuentes, a great friend of the writer, who died five years after her, in 2009.

It is Daniel who launches, this month, the virtual store Obscena Lucidez (obscenalucez.com.br), which will sell books, translations and CDs. “Her work will be concentrated in a single place for fans across the country”, says the heir, who intends to create other products, such as posters and cell phone covers. The idea of ​​opening the business portal came from an experience on the page that Daniel set up on Facebook about the writer, who has more than 15 followers – curiously, half of them aged between 15 and 24. “We put 1,5 books on the network for sale and sold out in two weeks, without advertising.”


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