February 28, 2009


Happy Birthday, Mr. Ripley (JAMES CAMPBELL, February 4, 2009, NY Times)

After her novel “Ripley Under Ground” was published in 1970, Patricia Highsmith presented a copy to a friend with the inscription “For Charles with love . . . from Tom (Pat).” According to her biographer, Andrew Wilson, Highsmith occasionally signed letters in the persona of her favorite character, a charming psychopath whose dedication to a life of art and refinement has erased his conscience. Highsmith recorded five installments of the Tom Ripley story over a period of 37 years. She was the author of 17 other novels, in many of which it is the good man (seldom a woman) who suffers, snaring himself in a trap of his own unconscious devising. With Ripley, matters are different. He has killed at least eight people — most of them unsavory types — yet he always walks free, as, perhaps, he continues to do. Highsmith died after a prolonged illness in 1995, but she gave no indication that Ripley had gone before.

Tom first stepped into view in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” written in six months in 1954. He was 25 years old, which means he celebrates his 80th birthday in 2009.

...he was the perfect hero for our time.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2009 7:09 AM
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