Friday, May 29, 2009

She was Ripley... (Books - Beautiful Shadow a Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson)

"After Pat's death, John Mortimer wrote a tribute, saying he thought she was in love with Mr. Ripley,' says Charles Latimer, 'but actually she was Ripley, or, I should say, she would have liked to have been him.'

When she spoke of Ripley in her later years, 'she would talk about him like he was a person who was very close to her,' says Bettina Berch. 'She'd defend him and think about what he would say about a certain situation. He was very real to her.' At the end of a letter to her fried, the photographer Barbara Kerr-Seymer, Highsmith signed herself 'Pat H., alias Ripley.'

'Tom Ripley is the gentleman as occasional murderer, a difference expressive of the ethical gap between the late nineteenth century and late twentieth,' he said. Symons believe that Highsmith's novels were remarkable as they suggested 'that a different and wholly personal code of morality should be substituted for the code of what society generally regards as important.' Indeed, Highsmith more or less stated as much in her 1966 book, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. 'I find the public passion for justice quite boring and artificial, for neither life nor nature cares if justice is ever done or not.' In 1981 she elaborated on this when she told Diana Cooper-Clark of her fascination for amorality. 'I supposed I find it an interesting contrast to stereotyped morality which is frequently hypocritical and phony. I also think that to mock lip-service morality and to have a character amoral, such as Ripley, is entertaining.'

She also told one interviewer that she aligned herself with the criminal perspective because of her own innate sense of strangeness, which she traced back to her family background. 'It's true, I understnad nuts, kinky, kooky people,' she said. ' I don't understand ordinary people. Housewives. Maybe it's because I am not entirely normal! I myself have a criminal bent... I have a lurking liking for those who flout the law which I realise is despicable of me.'

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