Salt and its price

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Salt and its price , also Carol ( English The Price of Salt or Carol ), is a romance novel by the American author Patricia Highsmith . She first published the novel in 1952 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan with the American publisher Coward-McCann. Highsmith did not reveal her authorship until 1990 and has now published the revised novel under the title Carol . The German translation was published in 1990 by the Swiss Diogenes Verlag as Carol and in 2006 as part of a German-language complete edition of Highsmith's works in a new translation under the title Salt and His Prize . The book was made into a British-American co-production by Todd Haynes in 2015 .

The book tells about nineteen-year-old Therese, who falls in love for the first time: with Carol, a woman thirteen years older than her, and about the crises surrounding this love.


The book has 23 numbered chapters, the second part starts with chapter 12.

Therese Belivet grew up with her grandmother and in boarding school after her father, a lawyer and amateur painter, died when she was only six years old and her mother, a concert pianist, married a second time. Therese has not seen her mother for years. She is now nineteen, is training to be a set designer , lives alone in a room in Manhattan and is looking for a job. She can only get a permanent job if she buys into the union ; she doesn't have the money for it yet. Therese got a temporary job at the department store "Frankenberg's" for the Christmas business and works as a saleswoman at the doll counter in the toy department. The work requires standing for hours and is therefore very exhausting. She has little contact with her colleagues, only Mrs. Robicheck, whom she regards as old and ugly, is respected by her, and she lets herself be invited into her apartment once when they meet while shopping in a supermarket.

Therese is friends with Richard Semco, who gave her the nickname Terry. He dreams of becoming a painter, while his parents expect him to join the family business that makes gas bottles . Terry has dated two men before, but they broke up with her when they realized she didn't want to go to bed with them. She had sex with Richard a couple of times, which she always experienced as painful, whereupon the patient Richard reproached himself. Richard good-naturedly believes that the problem will somehow resolve itself, plans a trip to Europe with Terry soon and thinks about marriage. Terry had already been invited to Richard's parents and was warmly welcomed there. Richard's friend, the actor Phil McElroy, will soon be starring in a comedy at the Black Cat Theater and promises to work to ensure that Terry gets the contract for the set design.

At “Frankenberg's”, Therese noticed an attractive blonde customer in a mink coat. When their eyes cross, Therese can't look away. The customer, Mrs. Aird, buys a doll suitcase from her and then another doll and gives her address so that the goods can be brought to her home. As a spontaneous inspiration, Therese sends the customer a company Christmas card the following day and gives her personal number as the sender. Carolin Aird suspects someone has come on, but calls "Frankenberg's" anyway and makes an appointment with Therese in a café in town.

Therese is invited to her home by Carol, where she gets to know the family situation. Thirty-two-year-old Carol is living in divorce with her husband Harge, a wealthy real estate agent, who has meanwhile moved in with their five-year-old daughter Rindy to live with his parents. Since the father does not let the daughter visit the mother on Christmas Eve, Carol and Therese improvise the evening.

After the Christmas holidays, Therese starts working on the set for “Schwacher Regen” in the “Black Cat Theater”.

Therese is invited to lunch by Carol's best friend Abby and investigates. Abby, who originally studied entomology , and Carol once ran a furniture business. They had a love affair that lasted two months. Therese sees herself as Abby's rival, who mourns her love affair with Carol.

Richard buys the boat tickets for the European trip, and Terry tells him that she will instead accompany Carol on a car trip west of several weeks. He clings to his hopes with love letters that Terry does not answer and, in the end, accuses her of morbid behavior because she is with a woman.

Therese and Carol confess their love on the journey. They continue west via Chicago , Therese casually gets her driver's license .

In Salt Lake City , they discover that Harge Aird has hired a private detective to collect evidence of his wife's lesbian relationship in order to use this argument to deny her custody of Rindy. Harge also got a love letter from Theresa to Carol. Alerted by Abby by telephone, Carol interrupts the trip and flies to New York, while Therese waits in Sioux Falls , rents a room and looks for a job to fill the sudden void and gets into a crisis.

Everything goes wrong for Carol, Harge has extorted sole custody of Rindy with threats, and she should also undertake to end the lesbian relationship with Therese, if she ever wants to see Rindy at all. In this almost hopeless situation, she still doesn't give in.

Therese feels abandoned and betrayed by Carol. She returns to New York, moves, changes her hairstyle, her clothes, and finds her feet on the job, as she is invited to a reception where she can get tips on jobs from theater and television people. She meets up with Carol in town beforehand to give her the car back. When Carol makes her a declaration of love and asks her to move into her new apartment in town, Therese refuses, Therese goes to her appointment, Carol goes to a restaurant.

At the reception she will be introduced to future colleagues. In the hustle and bustle, the appearance of a blonde actress bursts, whose wandering gaze is caught in Therese's eyes, which reminds Therese of her feelings when Carol entered the doll department, but now encourages Therese to decide for herself what she does. She rejects the advances of the attractive woman.

In the final sequence Therese hurries away from the party and looks for Carol in the restaurant. She walks up to her while admitting that she loved Carol and would always love her .


  • Therese Belivet
  • Carolin Aird
  • Hargess Aird ("Harge")
  • Nerinda Aird ("Rindy")
  • Richard Semco
  • Abigail Gerhard ("Abby")
  • Phil McElroy, actor
  • Danny McElroy, physicist
  • Florence, maid at Aird
  • Mrs. Robicheck, saleswoman
  • a private detective
  • Elizabeth Cooper, Sioux Falls landlady


Patricia Highsmith helped Kathleen Senn buy a doll in Bloomingdale's department store during the 1948 Christmas business.

Highsmith wrote about the making of the novel in an epilogue to the new edition of Carol in 1989 . She had just finished Stranger on a train in 1948 , which was slated to appear the following year. During the Christmas season she took a job as a saleswoman at the doll counter in the Bloomingdale’s department store in Manhattan . One morning a blonde woman in a fur coat stepped into this chaos of noise and commerce , bought a doll, paid, and left. Still, I felt strange and dizzy, almost as if I was about to faint, and at the same time euphoric, as if I had had a vision . On the same evening, in two hours, Highsmith wrote the concept of the story of the lady in the fur coat: beginning, plot and end, the concept was later published from the estate as The Bloomingdale Story . The author can therefore be found in Therese, who identifies with the ideal image of Carol. The next day she was lying in bed with chickenpox .

The Highsmith biographer Andrew Wilson and the German literary scholar Paul Ingendaay used the diary entries and notebooks to adjust the timing a little. Wilson actually found out about the life of the furry lady who bought a doll for one of her daughters at Bloomingdale's and who had never seen the Highsmith again decades later, while Highsmith had been unsuccessful when she boarded the train on June 30, 1949 to Ridgewood to see her "Carol", aka Mrs. Kathleen Senn.

After her trip to Europe and under the impression of her love affair with Kathryn Cohen, Highsmith continued her work on the novel in the fall of 1949 on the return trip on a cargo ship from Genoa to New York. Initially, the concept had the working title "The Argument of Tantalus", " Tantalus " representative of the torments that homosexuals have to endure in society. In October 1950, together with her editor, she chose the optimistic, open ending of the novel. Highsmith, however, had concerns about publishing a "lesbian" novel. She didn't want to be branded as an author of lesbian books. But she agreed to the suggestion of her editor to use a pseudonym.

On January 19, 1951, her 29th birthday, she thought her work was done. At Ann Smith's suggestion, she chose Claire Morgan as a pseudonym. Her publisher Harper & Brothers finally rejected the book, despite the advance payment and the editing, on the grounds that it was too close to the topic and that her approach was not mature enough. The book was therefore published in April 1952 by Coward-McCann, New York under the title The Price of Salt and sold over a million copies from the following year in the 25 cents paperback edition of Bantam . With the advertisement The novel of a love society forbids, Bantam advertised the paperback ambiguously, although the novel does not contain a single sex scene that is prohibited because it is explicit.


Homosexuality was definitely socially outlawed in the United States in the early 1950s, and homosexual men were removed from public service in the McCarthy era . If novels were about homosexual relationships at all, they ended in the protagonists' "conversion" or their death. Paperback books were mailed by the clubs and censored by the postal service, and nothing that condoned a "perverted" life would have stood a chance . Highsmith, however, let her novel about the lesbian love of two women end confidently.


The book was sold millions of times and "Claire Morgan" received a lot of approving letters to the editor, some of which Patricia Highsmith - under this pseudonym - also answered.


  • Claire Morgan: The Price of Salt . Coward-McCann, New York 1952.
  • Claire Morgan: The Price of Salt . Revised edition with an afterword by Claire Morgan from October 1983. The Naiad Press, Tallahassee 1984.
  • Carol . Afterword 1989. WW Norton & Company, 1990.
  • Carol. Novel of an unusual love . Afterword by the author 1989. Translation by Kyra Stromberg . Diogenes, Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-257-01843-6 ; as: Diogenes-Taschenbuch , Volume 22487. Diogenes, Zurich 1992, ISBN 3-257-22487-7 .
  • Salt and its price . Afterword by the author in 1989. In the appendix: The Bloomingdale Story . Translation of Melanie Walz . Afterword by Paul Ingendaay . Editorial note from Anna von Planta. Diogenes, Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-257-06402-0 .


The film rights had been with the British production company Film4 Productions since 2003 . The film Carol was shot in 2013 and came out in the fall of 2015 after being shown in Cannes that same year , where actress Rooney Mara was awarded for her portrayal of Therese.

radio play

BBC Radio adapted the book as a radio play in its "15 Minute Drama" series. With Miranda Richardson as Carol and Andrea Deck as Therese , the radio play was broadcast in five episodes in December 2014.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. There is also an afterword by Claire Morgan to the 1984 revision. The afterword was dated May 24, 1989 by Highsmith in the 1990 edition
  2. Patricia Highsmith: Afterword , in: Salt and his price , 2005, pp. 403-405
  3. a b Andrew Wilson: Schöner Schatten , 2004, p. 233
  4. Andrew Wilson: Beautiful Shadow , 2004, p. 220
  5. ^ Paul Ingendaay: Afterword , 2005, pp. 451ff.
  6. Andrew Wilson: Beautiful Shadow , 2004, p. 241, p. 247
  7. ^ Paul Ingendaay: Afterword , 2005, p. 439
  8. Andrew Wilson: Beautiful Shadow , 2004, p. 232
  9. a b Andrew Wilson: Schöner Schatten , 2004, p. 235
  10. ^ A b c Joan Schenkar: "The talented Mrs. Highsmith", 2009, pp. 441–442
  11. a b c Andrew Wilson: Schöner Schatten, 2004, p. 246
  12. ^ A b c Anna von Planta: Editorial note , p. 459. In "Salt and its price". Diogenes, Zurich 2015, ISBN 978-3-257-24324-6
  13. ^ Sympathy for outsiders in: SPIEGEL SPECIAL 3-1990, p. 64
  14. ^ Paul Ingendaay: Afterword , 2005, p. 454
  15. Andrew Wilson: Beautiful Shadow, 2004, p. 247
  16. Joan Schenkar: "The Talented Mrs. Highsmith", 2008, p. 494
  17. Marijane Meaker: My Years with Pat , 2005, p. 14
  18. Patricia Highsmith: Afterword , in: Salz und seine Preis , 2005, pp. 406f.
  19. Carol: 15 minute drama. BBC Radio 4, December 1, 2014, accessed December 29, 2015 .