The Dark Side of Adaptation
The plot of Highsmith’s novel The Blunderer (1954) offers a model of adaptation as compelling as it is perverse: adaptation as copycat murder. Beginning with an analysis of the way this analogy is developed in The Blunderer and its subsequent adaptations (Le meurtrier [Enough Rope] and A Kind of Murder), this chapter makes a case for maladaptation—criminal adaptation, unsuccessful adaptation, the calamitous refusal to adapt, and a fatal facility for adaptation—as the central subject of Highsmith’s fiction and traces some of the leading implications of the position that just as crime and love are metaphors for the adaptive impulse that runs throughout Highsmith’s fiction, adaptation itself may be considered both an act of love and a criminal act.
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