Patricia Highsmith : her diaries and notebooks, 1941-1995

by Highsmith, Patricia, 1921-1995,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 4 Libraries 4 of 4 copies
Available (4)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction PS3558.I366 Z46 2021
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  PS3558.I366 Z46 2021
Cooper-Siegel Community Library Non-Fiction 809 HIG
Location  Cooper-Siegel Community Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  809 HIG
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction 818 HIGHSMITH Patricia
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  818 HIGHSMITH Patricia
Northland Public Library New Books B HIGHSMITH
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  New Books
Call Number  B HIGHSMITH
Relegated to the genre of mystery during her lifetime, Patricia Highsmith is now recognized as one of "our greatest modernist writers" (Gore Vidal). Beloved by fans who were unaware of the real psychological turmoil behind her prose, the famously secretive Highsmith refused to authorize a biography, instead sequestering herself in her Switzerland home in her final years. Posthumously, her devoted editor Anna von Planta discovered her diaries and notebooks in 1995, tucked in a closet--with tantalizing instructions to be read.

For years thereafter, von Planta meticulously culled from over eight thousand pages to help reveal the inscrutable figure behind the legendary pen. Beginning with her junior year at Barnard in 1941, Highsmith ritualistically kept a diary and notebook--the former to catalog her day, the latter to brainstorm stories and hone her craft. This volume weaves diary and notebook simultaneously, exhibiting precisely how Highsmith's personal affairs seeped into her fiction--and the sheer darkness of her own imagination.

Charming yet teetering on the egotistical, young "Pat" lays bare her dizzying social life in 1940s Greenwich Village, barhopping with Judy Holliday and Jane Bowles, among others. Alongside Flannery O'Conner and Chester Himes, she attended--at the recommendation of Truman Capote--the Yaddo artist colony in 1948, where she drafted Strangers on a Train. Published in 1950 and soon adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, this debut novel brought recognition and brief financial security, but left a heartsick Highsmith agonizing: "What is the life I choose?"

Providing extraordinary insights into gender and sexuality in mid-twentieth-century America, Highsmith's diaries convey her euphoria writing The Price of Salt (1951). Yet her sophomore novel would have to be published under a pseudonym, so as not to tarnish her reputation. Indeed, no one could anticipate commercial reception for a novel depicting love between two women in the McCarthy era. Seeking relief from America, Highsmith catalogs her peripatetic years in Europe, subsisting on cigarettes and growing more bigoted and satirical with age. After a stay in Positano with a new lover, she reflects in her notebooks on being an expat, and gleefully conjures the unforgettable The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955); it would be this sociopathic antihero who would finally solidify her true fame.

At once lovable, detestable, and mesmerizing, Highsmith put her turbulent life to paper for five decades, acutely aware there must be "a few usable things in literature." A memoir as significant in our own century as Sylvia Plath's journals and Simone de Beauvoir's writings were to another time, Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks is an historic work that chronicles a woman's rise against the conventional tide to unparalleled literary prominence.

1921-1940: The early years
1941-1950: Early life in New York, and different ways of writing
1951-1962: Living between the United States and Europe
1963-1966: England, or The attempt to settle down
1967-1980: Return to France
1981-1995: Twilight years in Switzerland.

Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A quarter century after the death of novelist Highsmith (1921--1995), fans are given a fascinating and unprecedented look into the "playground for imagination." Discovered posthumously and edited into one impressive volume, these entries--pulled from Highsmith's private diaries and notebooks--chronologically span her early years in the U.S. to her death in Switzerland, offering, as von Planta writes, "a holistic understanding... of an author who concealed the personal sources of her material for her entire life." In the early 1940s, Highsmith (The Price of Salt; Strangers on a Train) reflects on her insatiability, particularly in the realms of reading and sex, "the most profound influence on me--manifesting itself in repressions and negatives." Throughout, readers get a glimpse into the machinations behind her hit thrillers, such as 1955's The Talented Mr. Ripley--"I often had the feeling that Ripley was writing"--as well as her lamentations around being an artist: "The unfortunate truth is that art sometimes thrives on unhappiness." She ruminates on her struggles with her sexuality ("To be creative is... the only mitigating factor, for being homosexual"), while her final diary entry in 1995 faces mortality head-on: "One goes about life as usual, then death arrives maybe suddenly.... In this, death's more like life, unpredictable." Devotees and historians alike will linger over every morsel. (Nov.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Highsmith, Patricia, -- 1921-1995 -- Diaries.
Highsmith, Patricia, -- 1921-1995 -- Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Diaries.
Publisher New York, NY :Liveright Publishing Corporation,2021
Edition First edition.
Contributors Planta, Anna von, editor.
Language English
Description xv, 999 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 972-977), filmography (pages 978-979) and index.
ISBN 9781324090991
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