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Novelist Patricia Highsmith, ca. 1950, Swiss Literary Archives, Bern.

Here is a transcription of a page from one of the journals of American novelist and short story writer Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995).

6/1/50 I am interested in the murderer’s psychology and also in the opposing planes, drives of good and evil (construction and destruction) whereby a slight deflection one can be made the other, and all the power of a strong mind and body be deflected to murder or destruction! It is simply fascinating!

…For perhaps even love by having its head persistently bruised, can become hate. For the curious thing yesterday. I felt quite close to murder, too, as I went to see the house of the woman who almost made me love her when I saw her a moment in December, 1948. Murder is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing. Is it not, too, a way of getting complete and passionate attention, for a moment, from the object of one’s affections? To arrest her suddenly, my hands upon her throat (which I should really like to kiss) as if I took a photograph, to make her in an instant cool and rigid as a statue.

And yesterday, people stared at me…wherever I went, in the trains, the bus, on the sidewalk. I thought, does it show in my face?

Now, more than twenty years after her death, Highsmith’s secret life will become public, as her estate prepares to publish hundreds of pages like this one from her personal diaries which also include her drawings and watercolors. Spanning nearly 60 years, these memoirs—56 spiral-bound notebooks, totaling some 8,000 pages—were found after Highsmith’s death, tucked away behind sheets and towels in a linen closet in her home in Switzerland.

In editing the diaries and notebook, Anna von Planta aims to offer an unvarnished look at the controversial author. Highsmith embraced strong anti-Jewish sentiments, cavalierly dismissing the Holocaust as the “semicaust” because some Jews were spared. Liveright Publishing plans to release the diaries in a single edition in the U.S. in 2021. Von Planta hopes the volume will “show how Patricia Highsmith became Patricia Highsmith” (for those who want to know).

Patricia Highsmith is known for her psychological thrillers, including Strangers on a Train (1950) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955). Both books were made into movies and increased her fame.

Prickly and eccentric, Highsmith was a mystery even to her friends and lovers. She found no pleasure in men. She was a chronic alcoholic and her hostility toward people grew as her condition worsened.

Patricia Highsmith appearing on the British TV program, “After Dark,” June 18,1988, Open Media Ltd.

She preferred animals:

Highsmith loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk, England. Highsmith once attended a London cocktail party with a “gigantic handbag” that “contained a head of lettuce and a hundred snails” which she said were her “companions for the evening.” wiki

“Patricia Highsmith,” composed of snail shells and cigarette butts, from blog,  “Book Dirt“. Art by Jason Mecier.

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