Little Tales of Misogyny

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First edition, 1977 (Heinemann)

Little Tales of Misogyny (1975), German: Kleine Geschichten für Weiberfeinde, is an anthology of short stories by Patricia Highsmith with illustrations by Roland Topor, first published in German language[1] in Switzerland by Diogenes Verlag.[a] It was published by Heinemann in 1977.[b]

The 'tales' are notable for their brevity — some comprise only a couple of pages — and macabre, exceedingly downbeat un-opinionated tone. The underlying theme of each story is the misfortune of women and/or women who destroy themselves or the lives of others, hence the book's title.[2]

Contents[edit]

  • "The Hand"
  • "Oona, the Jolly Cave Woman"
  • "The Coquette"
  • "The Female Novelist"
  • "The Dancer"
  • "The Invalid, or, the Bedridden"
  • "The Artist"
  • "The Middle-Class Housewife"
  • "The Fully Licensed Whore, or, the Wife"
  • "The Breeder"
  • "The Mobile-Bed Object"
  • "The Perfect Little Lady"
  • "The Silent Mother-in-Law"
  • "The Prude"
  • "The Victim"
  • "The Evangelist"
  • "The Perfectionist"

Reception[edit]

  • The 17 tales in Highsmith's new collection are a far cry from Strangers on a Train and her other unforgettable thrillers. These stories, although written with exemplary style, make the flesh crawl but not pleasurably, as reliable suspense fare does. Each focuses on a female doing in a male or, more often, herself. "The Breeder" Elaine persists in giving birth until her husband Douglas goes irrevocably mad, trying to support 17 children. "The Victim" is Cathy, fond of claiming she's been raped repeatedly in her nubile adolescence. During her career as an airline hostess, Cathy's sexuality pays better in rich gifts than in sympathetic attention. But greed and vanity spell the lush girl's doom. From the book's overall tone, readers could infer that its origin was bitter contempt for humans of either gender. The entries fail as real satire, which is always amusing, regardless of its stings.Publishers Weekly[citation needed]
  • The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of this legendary, cultish short story collection. With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manicured lawns. In the darkly satiric, often mordantly hilarious sketches that make up Little Tales of Misogyny, Highsmith upsets our conventional notions of female character, revealing the devastating power of these once familiar creatures — "The Dancer," "The Female Novelist," "The Prude" — who destroy both themselves and the men around them. This work attests to Highsmith's reputation as "the poet of apprehension" (Graham Greene).[3]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]