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Obsessed with murder, how the creator of The Talented Mr Ripley came close to committing the crime herself

In June 1952 – two years before she started to write The Talented Mr RipleyPatricia Highsmith had a dream about killing someone. In her nightmare, she remembered setting fire to a girl who resembled herself. As the flames began to engulf the naked body of the young woman, Highsmith felt guilty about committing the terrible crime. On waking, she tried to analyse the meaning of the dream. “I had two identities: the victim and the murderer,” Pat wrote in her notebook.

Highsmith – the creator of Tom Ripley, currently being beautifully captured by Andrew Scott in the new Netflix series, Ripley – was obsessed with murder. Not only did it haunt her dreams but – as I learned during the process of researching my biography of the author – at times she became dangerously close to imagining committing the crime herself.

“Murder is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing,” Highsmith wrote in one of her diaries. “(Is it not, too, a way of gaining complete and passionate attention, for a moment, from the object of one’s attentions?)”

Xural.com

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