Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


With My Dog-Eyes

Hilda Hilst

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase With My Dog-Eyes

Title: With My Dog-Eyes
Author: Hilda Hilst
Genre: Novel
Written: 1986 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 75 pages
Original in: Portuguese
Availability: With My Dog-Eyes - US
With My Dog-Eyes - UK
With My Dog-Eyes - Canada
With My Dog-Eyes - India
Le chien - France
  • Portuguese title: Com meus olhos de cão
  • Translated and with an Introduction by Adam Morris

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : beautifully warped; fine introduction to Hilst

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 29/4/2014 Nicholas Lezard
The Harvard Crimson F 15/4/2014 Jude D. Russo
Independent on Sunday . 11/5/2014 Holly Williams
Libération . 17/4/1997 Eric Loret
Publishers Weekly . 31/3/2014 .
TLS . 28/5/2014 Michael Lapointe

  From the Reviews:
  • "Insanity, or a radically fractured view of her intolerable reality, is what her work both is, and is about (...) This may all sound rather forbidding, and I wouldn't want to pretend that it's more reader-friendly than it is. There are few concessions to conventional understanding: we get flashes, but they are not comforting. This is a mind unravelling (.....) Look on it as not so much a novel as an extended prose poem, written from the edge." - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

  • "In retrospect, the decision to protect foreign markets from the hackneyed, incoherent ramblings on display in With My Dog Eyes looks more admirable. The Brazilian literary establishment appears to have been had. (...) This is a middle-schooler’s short story ginned up with sex and incoherent poetry. Maybe opaque modernism is not dead, but this work does not give support to those who argue this." - Jude D. Russo, The Harvard Crimson

  • "Such patterned leaps can provide a self-contained pleasure -- but they’re not easy to wring any real meaning from. Concentration is required, and not always repaid. (...) Hilst isn’t the easiest to love but, like her protagonist, she has her dazzling moments." - Holly Williams, Independent on Sunday

  • "Le rire et l'excès descendent dans la rue pour faire la fête et ne craignent même pas la trivialité quotidienne" - Eric Loret, Libération

  • "Readers will enjoy this taste of Hilst's talent, but many will find themselves still hungry." - Publishers Weekly

  • "Morris’s translation deserves the highest praise; the constant shifts in perspective call for tremendous agility. (...) This disorienting technique effectively draws the reader into Amós’s breakdown" - Michael Lapointe, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       With My Dog-Eyes is a very short novel by Hilda Hilst, of less than sixty pages. Translator Adam Morris' Introduction pads the slim volume -- and offers both good entertainment value and a helpful overview of the author, as Hilst had one hell of an unusual life (it's amazing there's no biography readily available, or that no one has put her in a novel of their own yet -- she was quite the character and led quite the life). While Hilst's backstory is almost too good to pass up, and aspects of it probably do clear up some questions about the text-proper the danger is, of course, that the author-story overwhelms the narrative itself, especially when it's this sensational (hence the need for a popular biography, to get that all out of the way).
       With My Dog-Eyes focuses on forty-eight-year-old mathematics professor Amós Kéres, summoned at the outset by the dean about student complaints that his lecture-pauses have grown rather intolerable -- "fifteen minutes is too much, they say you simply disconnect". You can see how that might be a problem -- especially as Kéres remains rather unaware: "Fifteen minutes ? For me it was only a second" he recalls in mulling over what the dean said (which at least he remembers). The dean recommends a leave of absence of a couple of weeks -- though it's unclear whether added time for reflection is really what Kéres needs.
       There's not that much story to With My Dog-Eyes; there is considerable reflection, as Kéres both looks back -- to when he was twenty and he'd take his maths books to the local brothel ("Such a tranquility there in the morning"), for example -- and considers his present, which seems in the process of dissolution, even as he can't fully grasp why. There is lucidity to his thoughts, and the text, but he's also clearing losing it. He flails in self-examination -- "I'm a castaway from myself and a gardener" -- but his self-definition loses itself in abstraction that goes beyond maths and words. So, for example:, he finds:

We are questions in an extensive and inconclusive ball of twine.
       Accounts of mental unbalance can make for iffy fiction; a lot depends on the language, a lot depends on the lengths it goes to. Even in translation, With My Dog-Eyes does well presenting a provocative and engaging personal portrait -- and not making too much of it: the poignancy of Kéres' final voyage of transformation is surely magnified by how very quickly it goes here. There is care and structure to the narrative, too, not just (not even close) insane rambling, and it reads well even as the language, thoughts, and ultimately the central character's very being dissolve in front of the reader's eyes.
       With My Dog-Eyes isn't everyday reading. It's unusual, odd, and disturbing; stylistically it's demanding and occasionally perhaps aggravating -- but there's definitely something to it.
       Worth your time.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 May 2014

- Return to top of the page -


With My Dog-Eyes: Reviews: Hilda Hilst: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Brazilian author Hilda Hilst lived 1930 to 2004.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2014 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links