After reading Burgum, [Patricia Highsmith] wrote in her cahier that, like Kafka, she felt she was a pessimist, unable to formulate a system in which an individual could believe in God, government or self. Again like Kafka, she looked into the great abyss which separated the spiritual and the material and saw the terrifying emptiness, the hollowness, at the heart of every man, a sense of alienation she felt compelled to explore in her fiction. As her next hero, she would take an architect, 'a young man whose authority is art and therefore himself,' who when he murders, 'feels no guilt or even fear when he thinks of legal retribution'. The more she read of Kafka the more she felt afraid as she came to realise, 'I am so similar to him.

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pessimist pessimism murder material kafka individual hollowness heart guilt government gog fiction fear explore emptiness belief autism retribution authority art alienation abyss self spiritual system terrifying

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