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As we all know, the dualistic nature of people or twinning as a concept was often envoked in dramas by Hitchcock as in the relationship between Charlie and Uncle Charlie and the Madeleine/Judy paradox. So too was author Patricia Highsmith [born Mary Patricia Plangman] a master of dualism in life and print, who would have been gratified to find that the actress who portrayed the character of Miriam Haines in "Strangers on a Train", named Laura Elliott had a whole second career as actress Kasey Rogers with credits in more tame ventures like the tv series "Bewitched" and "Peyton Place" and as such is unrecognizable as the victim of Bruno Antony. This mixing up of identities internally and externally was a fixation for Highsmith in her own life, which happily she used in her art to create characters like Tom Ripley, a doppelganger who could take on the characteristics of a friend like Dickie Greenleaf, all the while disavowing the homoerotic attraction of their relationship till the fateful end. One can see the signs of this same sex adulation in Bruno's fatuous fawning over Guy Haines in "Strangers on a Train", due to the former's identity crisis and psychosexual background.

The attraction to one's own sex was inherent in Highsmith's own life, possibly spurred on by the callous treatment of her own mother, a not so maternal figure due to her sang-froid personality, who once told her progeny that mama had imbibed turpentine in an effort to abort said child. Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1921, Highsmith wasn't even really a Highsmith, since she took on her stepfather's surname after the divorce of her parents. Her first novel, "Strangers on a Train" in 1948 depicts a type of society totally in tune with Highsmith's belief that "The abnormal point of view is always the best for depicting 20th century life, not only because so many of us are abnormal, but because 20th century life is established and maintained by abnormality.

On the subject of her own attraction to women, Highsmith's second novel "The Price of Salt" [later used as basis for the movie "Carol"] was based on the personal reminiscences of Highsmith concerning a woman shopper in Bloomingdale's that she found appealing enough to follow and almost stalk. Perhaps this is why Highsmith released this tale under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan.

Highsmith always referred to herself as a "suspense writer" following in the footsteps of one of her favorites, Fyodor Dostoevsky, but also paralleling bits and pieces of the works of Gide, Sartre and Camus in a sort of existentialist vein. Never revered in her own country, Highsmith did receive recognition and acclaim and honors in Europe, winning the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1957. At the time of her death in 1995 her amazing works of art were receiving little attention in her homeland till the revival of the Ripley series on film. Having no American publisher at that time, even her last book "Small g: A Summer Idyll" had been rejected in the US for publication in 1994.

Yet her work lives on with the justly famous Ripley novels and other fine works yet to be discovered by the vox populi, like "This Sweet Sickness", "The Cry of the Owl", "The Tremor of Forgery" and her many excellent short stories which also revel in the casual amorality which was Highsmith's forte and trademark. Having moved to Europe after dissatisfaction with her homeland, Highsmith died in 1995 in Switzerland after having also lived in England and France.

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Robert+Walker+Strangers+on+a+Train.PNGHow can anyone dislike a guy with a lobster tie? The two claws of the lobster represent

Bruno's twofold nature. As one claw is smaller than the other, the bigger claw symbolizes

his conscious mind, the smaller his subconscious mind, where his pansexual desires

and needs reside. It also represents the two parts of Goethe's Faust. Bruno would sell

his soul/sole for a hot Friday date at the D.C. club The Log Splitter. 

 

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Robert+Walker+Strangers+on+a+Train.PNGHow can anyone dislike a guy with a lobster tie? The two claws of the lobster represent

Bruno's twofold nature. As one claw is smaller than the other, the bigger claw symbolizes

his conscious mind, the smaller his subconscious mind, where his pansexual desires

and needs reside. It also represents the two parts of Goethe's Faust. Bruno would sell

his soul/sole for a hot Friday date at the D.C. club The Log Splitter. 

Right on, Vautrin. You are a true aesthete.

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