RARA-AVIS: Patricia Highsmith, was Vian and America

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 09 Dec 2008

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Patricia Highsmith, was Vian and America"

    >I would like to point out that Patricia Highsmith partly lost her ear
    > for US idiom. It is very noticeable in some of her works. There are
    > some sentences there that would never be uttered by a native. This is
    > delicate stuff.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I couldn't agree more with you, Mario. Allow me to make another analogy, not unlike the the Rousseau houseplant analogy of yesterday.

    I was never a big fan of Kubrick's, but you had to admire his painstaking attention to detail throughout most of his film career, which was equally true of the writing of Patricia Highsmith. But, at the end of his career, especially evidenced by his last film, Eyes Wide Shut, he had gotten extremely sloppy. How did he think he could make minor alterations to London streets and pass them off as being New York City streets? It was an Englishman's nightmare of what New York would like if you hadn't ever been there or at least not in thirty years. It made it seem even more surreal.

    That kind of faux New York City that Kubrick created in Eyes is what you get in Highsmith's later books such as Found in the Street, which was written, obviously not in New York, but while in residence in Europe so that she was removed from the city in both time and distance and culture. How many times do characters in her later novels use British words instead of American? Sentences, as Mario pointed out, that would never be uttered by a native American.


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