At her death in 2004, Brazilian author Hilda Hilst
, born in 1930 (in Jaú, São Paulo State), had received many of her country's most important literary prizes and published more than two dozen books. Yet she remains almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world, and, especially in the last third of her life, increasingly operated outside the mainstream of Brazilian literary culture. Prodigious as a poet, dramatist and prose writer, Hilst gained notoriety for what Brazilian critics label her "pornographic" tetralogy of the years 1990-1992, none of which had been translated into and published in English, until very recently. Of this quartet of books her 1991 novel Letters from a Seducer
will appear in the fall of 2013. Letters from a Seducer
employs the form and modes of the libertine epistolary tradition, juxtaposing letters from a wealthy, depraved socialite, named Karl, to his cloistered sister, Cordélia, against a formally distinct narrative that comprises a series of stories, some nested like atomic particles, by a near-homeless graphomane named Stamatius ("Tiu"). What becomes ever clearer as the novel proceeds is Ludwig Wittgenstein's famous dictum that "ethics and aesthetics" are one.