Ripley Under Ground

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Overview

In this harrowing illumination of the psychotic mind, the enviable Tom Ripley has a lovely house in the French countryside, a beautiful and very rich wife, and an art collection worthy of a connoisseur. But such a gracious life has not come easily. One inopportune inquiry, one inconvenient friend, and Ripley's world will come tumbling down—unless he takes decisive steps. In a mesmerizing novel that coolly subverts all traditional notions of literary justice, Ripley enthralls us ...
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Overview

In this harrowing illumination of the psychotic mind, the enviable Tom Ripley has a lovely house in the French countryside, a beautiful and very rich wife, and an art collection worthy of a connoisseur. But such a gracious life has not come easily. One inopportune inquiry, one inconvenient friend, and Ripley's world will come tumbling down—unless he takes decisive steps. In a mesmerizing novel that coolly subverts all traditional notions of literary justice, Ripley enthralls us even as we watch him perform acts of pure and unspeakable evil.

Tom Ripley has a lovely house in the French countryside, a beautiful and very rich wife, and an art collection worthy of a connoisseur. But this gracious life has not come easily; it is based on murder, forgery, and smuggling, and could topple at any moment.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Powers
Murder, in Patricia Highsmith's hands, is made to occur almost as casually as a bump of a fender or a bout of food poisoning. This downplaying of the dramatic...has been much praised as has her ordinariness of the details with which she depicts the daily lives and mental processes of her psychopaths. Both undoubtedly contribute to the domestication of crime in her fiction, therefore implicating the reader further in the sordid fantasies that are being worked out. -- New York Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783257204827
  • Publisher: Koch, Neff & Oetinger & Co. GmbH
  • Language: German
  • Series: Mr. Ripley Series, #2
  • Edition description: German Edition
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

Patricia Highsmith (1921 - 1995) was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in New York. She was educated at the Julia Richmond High School in Manhattan and then at Columbia University, where she earned her B.A. in 1942. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train (1950), tells the story of a tennis player and a psychotic who meet on a train and agree to swap murders. The terrifying tale caught the attention of director Alfred Hitchcock, who, with Raymond Chandler, filmed it in 1951. Both the book and the resulting movie are considered to be classics of the crime genre. Highsmith's subsequent novels, particularly five featuring the dashing forger/murderer Tom Ripley, have been vastly popular and critically acclaimed. In 1957 Highsmith won the coveted French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere and in 1964 was awarded the Silver Dagger by the British Crime Writers Association. A reclusive person, Highsmith spent much of her life alone. She moved permanently to Europe in 1963 and spent her final years in an isolated house near Locarno on the Swiss-Italian border. Upon her death, Highsmith left three million dollars of her estate to Yaddo, the artist community in upstate New York.

Biography

Suspense novels are often described as "chilling," but no one turns down the reader's emotional thermostat quite like Patricia Highsmith, author of such haunting psychological thrillers as Strangers on a Train and creator of the sociopathic series protagonist Tom Ripley. During her life, Highsmith was a popular author in Europe, where she lived; in her native United States, however, her books went sporadically in and out of print for decades. Now, the writer whom Graham Greene called "the poet of apprehension" has finally gained recognition in the States -- not only as a master of the suspense genre, but as a literary author of rare talent.

Highsmith grew up in Texas and New York, but spent most of her adult life in England, France and Switzerland. By most accounts she was a loner who avoided other people, including other writers; but she did have early help in her career from Truman Capote, who got her a stint at the Yaddo writers' colony in New York. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, tells the story of an architect and a psychopath who meet on a train and "swap" murders. The book gained Highsmith considerable fame, especially after it was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. A second novel, The Price of Salt, was printed under a pseudonym after her first publishers turned it down. Though her subsequent works didn't sell well in her home country, she kept turning out the kinds of novels and short stories the New Yorker called "bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night."

Several movies have been loosely based on Highsmith's books, including Danny DeVito's Hitchcock spoof Throw Momma From the Train; Wim Wenders' The American Friend, adapted from Ripley's Game; and Purple Noon, a French film based on The Talented Mr. Ripley. But it was Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella's lush screen adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, released four years after Highsmith's death and 44 years after the book's publication, that introduced Highsmith to a wider audience and led to a rediscovery of her works.

Subtle enough for a seminar yet entertaining enough for the beach, Highsmith's coolly narrated tales of terror display an observant eye for social behavior as well as individual psychology. Most books in the suspense genre provide a hero whose fundamental honesty and decency stand as bulwarks against the evil he or she confronts. But in a Highsmith novel, the reader is alone with victim and victimizer -- and an unsettling sense of empathy with both.

As Francis Wyndham has noted, Highsmith's "peculiar brand of horror comes less from the inevitability of disaster, than from the ease with which it might have been avoided. The evil of her agents is answered by the impotence of her patients -- this is not the attraction of opposites, but in some subtle way the call of like to like. When they finally clash in the climactic catastrophe, the reader's sense of satisfaction may derive from sources as dark as those which motivate Patricia Highsmith's destroyers and their fascinated victims."

Good To Know

Patricia Highsmith was born Mary Patricia Plangman; her parents divorced soon after she was born, however, and she was given her stepfather's last name. After Highsmith graduated from college, she lived for a time with her mother and stepfather in Greenwich Village, where she wrote comic books to support herself, including scripts for the Superman series.

A lesbian herself, Highsmith is thought to have written the first American novel in which a homosexual love story has a happy ending. The novel, The Price of Salt, was published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan; it was reissued in 1984 (as Carol), but didn't appear under the writer's real name until 1991.

Highsmith once told an interviewer that the only suspense writer she read was the master -- Dostoevsky, over and over. In her book Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, she wrote, "I think most of Dostoyevsky's books would be called suspense books, were they being published today for the first time. But he would be asked to cut, because of production costs."

The premise of The Talented Mr. Ripley was inspired by Henry James's The Ambassadors, in which a widow sends her fiance from America to Paris to fetch her wayward son.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Mary Patricia Plangman (birth name); Claire Morgan (pen name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 19, 1921
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Date of Death:
      February 4, 1995
    2. Place of Death:
      Locarno, Switzerland

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