American Icons: The ‘Ripley’ novels

Studio 360
American Icons: The Ripley Novels

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.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.

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.

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