Jill: I was delighted to hear about the structure of The Blazing World before I read it — it sounded like it would allow for a multiplicity of views and voices, which it did. Why did you decide to approach Harriet this way, and what do you think you gained from this structure?
Hustvedt: Harry is such a hot character, hot as opposed to cool, that I think the reader would die, actually, if it were only her voice. The book really is a kind of refraction; it’s like light in a prism. It keeps refracting around the room.
I wanted her to be seen from multiple perspectives. She’s dead, of course, but you get to feel her living, writing in the notebooks, with the distance that’s provided by this frame with the editor. We know there has been interest in her work. She is a respected artist after her death, which is something she desperately wanted and hoped for.
Then I think about polyphony, that you can’t come down in any one place. The voices are voices of contradiction, of cacophony, and there are warring ideas, warring feelings. The form really mirrors the thematics of the book.