American Icons: The ‘Ripley’ novels

Studio 360

In a series of novels beginning with “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Patricia Highsmith explored the dark side of the American dream: ambition untempered by morality, the credo of self-invention taken to murderous extremes.

Author Patricia Highsmith in 1978.

Author Patricia Highsmith in 1978.

Credit:

AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Novelists Gillian Flynn, Hanya Yanagihara and Alexander Chee examine Highsmith's famous style and the enduring influence of her iconic character, Tom Ripley, who shares roots with other great American masters and monsters of reinvention, from Superman to Gatsby to Walter White.

The “Ripley” series

The “Ripley” series

Credit:

Courtesy of The Folio Society

Scholar Terry Castle and Highsmith biographer Joan Schenkar discuss his brilliant and tormented creator, and what led her to explore those shadowy corners of human psychology we'd like to keep hidden, even from ourselves.

American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Will you help our nonprofit newsroom today?

Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.

Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?