*With My Dog-Eyes*(Melville House, 2014) by Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) is narrated by a mathematician-poet. That fact of narration is what first drew me to the book. (See also this July 3 posting.) And then there is (related in Morris's introduction to the translation) Hilst's sad life, perhaps mirrored in her characters. These are the opening lines from the novel's narrator:

The cross on my brow

The facts of what I was

Of what I will be:

I was born a mathematician, a magician

I was born a poet.

And, then, streams of words from an inventively troubled mind...from page 18:

I looked at numbers formulas equations theorems and it was a pleasure,

a fiery freeze, a bodyguard for wondering alone without

the speech-rupture of others, logicality and reason and nevertheless

the possibility of surprise as though we were unfolding a piece of silk,

blue triangles on the fresh surface and suddenly just a dull little grid,

lines that we can separate and recompose into triangles again,

yes, this we could do, but where did the blue get to, where?

From pages 35-36, some Platonic musings:

Vertex Edge and Face

I saw the breath of the bird.

Tetrahedron: four vertices

Six edges, four faces

I'm immersed

Vivid inside your room.

Hexagon: eight vertices

Twelve edges, six faces

My beak rots

Over the short page.

Octahedron: six vertices

Twelve edges, eight faces

Swaying of the rooster

On the nightbranch.

Icosahedron: twelve vertices

Thirty edges, twenty faces

Sweat and ink

Patrolling the limit.

Monstrosity: twenty-one vertices

Forty-five edges, twenty-six faces

Walls of ferns shedding fronds to kill the king . . .

Hilst did not study mathematics but she had out with good friends who knew and liked to talk of the subject (for example, math historian Ubiratan d'Ambrosio -- one of those friends to whom she dedicates the book) -- and from them she learned the words . . . and the dreams . . . The five Platonic solids were once "the elements," cosmic figures, the Universe. (Why are there only five?)

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