Thursday, May 03, 2007

Patricia Highsmith's Hodmandod Tendencies.

A long time ago I commented on how Patricia Highsmith lovingly evoked the mating of snails in one of her short stories. I was reminded about this a few days ago when Debra sent me a link to a very interesting webpage on weird mating rituals. Dr Grump and I have spent many happy hours poring over this over the last few days and she is now thinking of writing a research paper based on the topic but extending the research to humans.
This reminded me about a book I read in the British Library recently called Asperger's Syndrome and High Achievement by Ioan James (another title which tells you all you need to know) and it was a fascinating read. One of the people mentioned was Patricia Highsmith. There were few women in the book since Asperger's is more common in males. Patricia Highsmith seems to have been sexually ambiguous and, like all the other characters in the book, highly eccentric.

People with autism usually have social, speech and language impairments. They have repetitive routines, a strange sense of humour and tend to be clumsy. They also have all-absorbing narrow interests and Patricia Highsmith seems to have developed an extreme fondness for snails. Towards the end of her life she became a recluse and visitors described how she used to carry 100 snails around with her at a time. How, it does not say. But I imagine them forming a mobile armour, their constantly shifting shells making accidental patterns on her arms, their antennae stretching out whenever they sniffed green leaf. She would have to be careful how she sat... and it would explain why the snail mating scene in her short story was so well observed and sensuous.


Blogger dhamel said...

I had no idea! How bizarre.

Fri May 04, 01:18:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please excuse the imposition (and the non-sequitur!); I am writing from an independent, London-based publisher called Hesperus Press, and have been reading your blog with interest. We specialise in reviving neglected classics and newly translating works, usually from European languages, that are not usually available in English. We also have a number of contemporary fiction titles, these also largely translated. I wondered whether I might interest you in a copy of our latest catalogue. If so, please send your mailing address to, and I'll pop one in the post.

Many thanks,

Ellie Robins, Hesperus Press.

Fri May 04, 04:10:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Fascinating ... as always!

Sun May 06, 09:37:00 pm  

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