Thursday, January 19, 2012

Highsmith day...

By Tracy

Patricia Highsmith was born on this day in 1921.

Problematic, contradictory, by all biographical accounts bigoted and not a pleasant person to be around -- yet strangely gifted, at times, in her fictional writing.

On the one hand, a critic (Noel Mawer*) can write: "Highsmith was radically concerned with morality, justice, guilt, and good and evil, and with the conditions in our society that define these concepts."

Another can state that she "loathed Patricia Highsmith's work for its inhumanity to man", that "her work was immoral" (Margharita Laski, cited in Mawer).

I am both repelled and compelled by it, and interested in the variety of conflicting (confused and confusing) critical responses to her oeuvre.

(*See Noel Mawer, A Critical Study of the Fiction of Patricia Highsmith -- From the Psychological to the Political, The Edwin Mellen Press, pp.5 & 10)

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