Patricia Highsmith’s Uncommon Empathy for Animals

“The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder” is a perfect book of short stories for vegans who enjoy a dark thrill

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Photo: Anonymous/Harper & Brothers/Wikimedia Commons

Highsmith seems to challenge the reader: “If maltreatment of an elephant is obviously wrong, what about a cat? Does a rat deserve your empathy? What if a pair of boys stab it in the eye and slice off two of its paws in their attempt to kill it? Are you still with me?”

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Photo: James Hammond/Unsplash
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Photo: W.W. Norton

There is more moral clarity here than one expects, perhaps because the animals know or intuit whether a person is kind or not, good or bad, conscientious or indifferent or cruel.

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Freelance journalist, hiker, mostly vegetarian. A bit of the outdoors in your inbox:

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