The Price of Salt Background

The Price of Salt Background

The story of Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt (originally published in 1952) is an interesting one to say the least. Highsmith originally published the book under the name Claire Morgan because she feared becoming "a lesbian book writer" and being discovered as a lesbian in a time where homosexuals were not treated kindly. Later republished as Carol, The Price of Salt revolutionized the Lesbian genre, helping it become a better-respected genre -- not like the pulpy garbage most were accustomed to when reading the genre. The Price of Salt was revolutionary in the Lesbian genre because it had something the vast majority of novels did not have: a happy ending.

Highsmith drew inspiration from her own life in writing The Price of Salt. The book tells the story of stage designer Therese Belivet and Carol Aird as the two fall in love with each other in a time when society forbade their love and relationship. Along the way, they must deal with the confines society places on them and, more importantly, each other. The tagline for the book when it was published sums it up pretty well, saying that "[The Price of Salt is] the novel of a love that society forbids."

At release, the book was not widely read because of how niche it was. However, those who read the book loved it. Janet Levine of the New York Journal of Books was one such reader. In her review, she said that β€œThe Price of Salt is a moving, beautifully conceived and written book. It is a mesmerizing read.” However, the book is not without some detractors. Some reviews have said that the book has characterization issues and that the books pacing was off in a number of sections (particularly when the two main characters go on a road trip). Still, the book is regarded as a masterpiece (one of Highsmith's many) and a bonafide cult classic.

The Price of Salt was adapted into a radio show on the BBC in 2014 and into a film in 2015. Directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the film received rave reviews, was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards (including Best Actress for Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Mara, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score), and made $42.9 million at the box office against a budget of only $11.8 million.

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