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Crime Fiction 11

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McGill University
English (Arts)
ENGL 324
Thomas Heise

Feb 8 - Finish Ripley - 2/17 reading at THomson House 7:30 - unsatisfactory resolutions along the way in a plot that allow it to continue until a final resolution - narratology: study of narrative (like peter brooks) - interested in Freudian techniques, but not the purely sexual part, the parts that apply to narrative (death instinct, life principle) - narrative begins our desire and takes us through a cycle of arousal - detective novels are fundamentally conservative narratives because they're interested in resolution and require that that be achieved - brooks gets this idea from Freud that the mind desires a return to a period in which it is not stimulated (the closure of the plot) - likening of sex and death (orgasm = le petit morte) - some of the literature has been read quite strongly: the scene where Tom has just killed Dickie (he's really close to the object of his desire) and on verge of killing him, it's almost like kissing him - and then he falls over the board of the boat and nearly drowns when he's dropping the body over - like the hallucination in Red harvest - he starts off in pursuit of the woman, and then the characters change into a Mexican in a sombrero - in HB Sentimentality, about Highsmith: pursuit is a persistent theme, but her characters don't know where to run because they don't know where the threat is coming from (as it's often from within) - a physical pursuit that is shadowed deeply by paranoia - Ripley is sent abroad in pursuit of Dickie - the novel opens up with Tom being pursued by Herbert Greenleaf - what is immediately revealed is that he's worried and a bit relieved that he might be the object of sexual pursuit - his brain and mouth struggle over the word pervert; difficult for him to own up to it - his own internal psychic restlessness shows through when we note that he's always in motion - he's always on the move or being questioned - what does Ripley desire? one thing is Greenleaf as a sexual partner/boyfriend - when Greenleaf and Marge buy a fridge together, it's a sign of their domesticity - free and direct discourse (third person, but in the mind of Tom Ripley) - Tom's thoughts are expressed not through dialogue, but instead they appear on the page -~130: when Freddie shows up, Tom thinks that Freddie thinks that they're having a romantic relationship - if they were actually together, there'd be a cover story, right? and there is one, so that could be why - reversal of roles - the assumption is that Greenleaf's partnered up with this other man, and he's living this homosexual relationship with Ripley, so his life is one big masque of anonymity - Tom desires Greenleaf's money as well as his partnership (33) - 36: everything is clean, he likes things in order. he's very sentimental over the bon voyage basket, bringing him to tears, though he used to see them in shop windows and laugh - he wants Greenleaf’s life of nonchalance - get served by a maid, hang out in the cafe, lounge around etc: why would Greenleaf want to go back to new york when you can do that? - he has no desire to bring back greenleaf, because he himself wants to stay in Europe for as long as possible - image of wealthy indolence, a certain portrait of upper-class American nonchalance that Ripley desires - so Greenleaf is both an object of sexual desire and - Highsmith says that Ripley is "a little queer, but would never act on it" - sex is too tawdry for him, too vulgar - there are four other Ripley novels, though, and he eventually does get married - this novel is not so much about sexual identity as it is about the eroticism of class - the production of class identity. you make yourself legible as the product of a certian class by adjusting your interactions with others and what you look like - it's not like greenleaf is dressing in the finest of designer threads, but it's clear that he's so comfortable in his class that he doesn't have to bother showing it - he's got a kind of split consciousness. he doesn't know who he is, so he's uncomfortable in his own body - he has to work very hard to maintain a particular identity - when he has to become Tom Ripley again, he has to work at it. he can't just flip a switch and become himself again, he has to work at it - when he goes back to being Ripley, this relieves the guilt of having killed Freddie - he has no centered core: there's no authentic Tom Ripley - Highsmith doesn't really want to give us an explanation of why he is the way he is - he can remake himself because it's not like he has parents to come calling on him - like the great gatsby: he suppresses his old life, but the thing that he keeps trying
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