Ripley under Ground

Overview

"Ripley is an unmistakable descendant of Gatsby, that 'penniless young man without a past' who will stop at nothing."?Frank Rich
Now part of American film and literary lore, Tom Ripley, "a bisexual psychopath and art forger who murders without remorse when his comforts are threatened" (New York Times Book Review), was Patricia Highsmith's favorite creation. In these volumes, we find Ripley ensconced on a French estate with a wealthy wife, a world-class art collection, and a past to hide. In Ripley Under Ground ...

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Ripley Under Ground

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Overview

"Ripley is an unmistakable descendant of Gatsby, that 'penniless young man without a past' who will stop at nothing."—Frank Rich
Now part of American film and literary lore, Tom Ripley, "a bisexual psychopath and art forger who murders without remorse when his comforts are threatened" (New York Times Book Review), was Patricia Highsmith's favorite creation. In these volumes, we find Ripley ensconced on a French estate with a wealthy wife, a world-class art collection, and a past to hide. In Ripley Under Ground (1970), an art forgery goes awry and Ripley is threatened with exposure; in The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980), Highsmith explores Ripley's bizarrely paternal relationship with a troubled young runaway, whose abduction draws them into Berlin's seamy underworld; and in Ripley Under Water (1991), Ripley is confronted by a snooping American couple obsessed with the disappearance of an art collector who visited Ripley years before. More than any other American literary character, Ripley provides "a lens to peer into the sinister machinations of human behavior" (John Freeman, Pittsburgh Gazette).

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

Patrick Anderson
Highsmith delights in rubbing our noses in the horrors that lie beneath the veneer of civilization, beneath the fragile mask of sanity. There's no one else like her, and that's just as well, but she was an artist, one whose literary gifts were as exceptional as the rage that drove her fiction.
—The Washington Post
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: 9780393332131
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/17/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 251,134
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was the author of more than twenty novels, including Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt and The Talented Mr. Ripley, as well as numerous short stories.

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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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2000

    Murder, Deceit, Romance, Beauty- This series has everything!

    Why do I find myself pulling for Ripley? He is a madman, but the character is so well developed, that you actually like him!!! I loved The Talented Mr. Ripley and I am enjoying Ripley's Game. The descriptions of the European cities and towns really put you there. Highsmith is an extremely talented author. She can really tell a story!!! I highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 1999

    A probing look through the eyes of a psychopath

    Highgrave offers delicous insite into the twisted mind of a madman. The way she weaves the story leaves you breathless to read the next page. Ripley's character is so well developed that you actually find yourself looking forward to the next challenge Ripley must overcome, going to lengths no sane person would even contemplate. Highsmith's ability to draw the reader into Ripley's world is astounding.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2010

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