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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia…

The Talented Mr. Ripley (original 1955; edition 2008)

by Patricia Highsmith

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3,422971,579 (3.91)263
Title:The Talented Mr. Ripley
Authors:Patricia Highsmith
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Highsmith, American, Thriller, 20th Century, Ripley, fiction

Work details

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)

  1. 00
    As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann (1Owlette)
    1Owlette: Similarities in the unreliable perspective and opacity of the main characters, who also share common ground in their sexual and violent tendencies. In other ways, these are very different reads, with Highsmith adopting a very detached, effectively estranging tone for Ripley. As Meat Loves Salt, moreover, covers a much broader canvas.… (more)
  2. 00
    Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates (sturlington)
    sturlington: Told from the psychopath's point of view.
  3. 11
    The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges Simenon (thatguyzero)
  4. 00
    The Lying Tongue by Andrew Wilson (jonathankws)
  5. 12
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (JuliaMaria)
  6. 05
    Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Both Oscar and Ripley are afraid of water
  7. 29
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Wova4)
    Wova4: The GwtDT reminded me of the character Ripley, who is very much a morally ambiguous protagonist with a complicated psychology.

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» See also 263 mentions

English (87)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
The Talented Mr. Ripley has been languishing on my shelves for a number of years, and the #1955book challenge led me to pull it off the bookcase. Thankfully, I forgot a great deal of the Matt Damon/Jude Law version of the movie as I settled into the story, but even knowing the story did not keep me from being surprised by the novel.

Tom Ripley is a young American of modest means with some sort of background as a con artist whom we meet in New York City in a bar where he is approached by the industrialist father of Dickie Greenleaf. Mr. Gleenleaf the father hires Tom to travel to Italy to convince his wayward son to return to the United States to take his place in the family boat-building business and be closer to his ailing mother. The rest of the book details Ripley's adventures and crimes in Italy.

What most impressed me was the tone: I was in the head of one of the strangest characters I've read about, and it was profoundly disturbing and at times seemed utterly normal. I was also impressed that I didn't grow bored of the rich-expatriates in southern-Europe storyline which I've found tiresome in other stories. Ripley is fascinating, and the pacing and the plotting he takes on were quite intricate. I'm also a fan of briefer books, and the length of this one felt much shorter than contemporary books I typically read.

All in all, this was a good foray into a more classic story: the psychological work, the creepiness of the plotting: this book stood out a lot more than the only other Highsmith I have read.

Other reviews appear in Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, Past Offences, and Existential Ennui (lots of old covers in this post).

I bought my copy of the book.
1 vote rkreish | Mar 13, 2015 |
It is rare to have vastly differing opinions on one book, but not unknown to our group … and
something that Highsmith’s Mr Ripley managed this month. Denise found that the constant, repetitive internal dialogue of the main character (Mr Ripley himself) tediously dull and uninspiring. She felt the description of another hotel room, restaurant, train trip etc … would send her over the edge! Not only did she not like Mr Ripley, she had no interest in what would befall him (or those around him) next.
In direct contrast was Anne who thought the whole story clever … a psychological thriller that held her throughout the entire book. The impending likelihood that Ripley would be caught kept the reader in a perpetual state of speculation and doubt.
The perfect result for such a novel.

Other comments tended towards the positive. Some found it ‘quirky and funny’, others thought the sense of place was wonderfully done, bringing Venice in particular alive. We managed to do quite a good job of psychoanalysing Mr Ripley and although we considered him a most unhealthy individual, we mostly agreed that he was not a completely ruthless psychopath. More like your average everyday schizophrenic who sees no obstacle too difficult on the way to his aim. Would he have killed Dickie if the need had not presented itself? This is something we, as mere readers will never know, but the odds are good and thankfully, for those of us who want more of Mr Ripley, Highsmith has provided such through two more Ripley adventures – Ripley Under Water and The Boy who Followed Ripley. ( )
1 vote DaptoLibrary | Feb 23, 2015 |
I had no idea what to expect from this book. I got it after only just recognizing the title. So I went into it totally blind. I found it fascinating being in the mind of Tom Ripley. Just how cold and calculating that he cold be. Ripley always was several steps out ahead of all of the other characters covering his bases. I kept trying to figure out what exactly motivated him. It wasn't love. And I never could figure out his sexual orientation which normally I wouldn't think about with character but it seemed important in this story and the time period. So I'm left with that he did it for the money, which he obviously enjoyed, but not quite as much as just simply enjoyed being a sociopath. ( )
1 vote she_climber | Feb 12, 2015 |
There is something admirable about a job well done, regardless of whether it was due to the skill of its executor or just a series of coincidental opportunities, something akin to an accidental Rube Goldberg machine. This is the feeling I got from the protagonist's series of escalating crimes and his ability to shirk off all suspicions. What makes this novel a very different read from general murder-mysteries and bad-guys-as-good-guys genres is that you are neither cheering the protagonist on, nor wishing terribly for his downfall. There is a certain detachment between the reader and the novel which is probably the one that he intends, to separate us and also his responsibilities from his actions.

As well as its premise which I presume to be original in its time, the novel is an interesting insight into a variety of negativity - self-loathing, self-righteousness, low self-esteem - which everyone has felt at some time but magnified here in a darkly humorous fashion. However, it disappoints by revealing the prejudices of its time with its homosexuality-as-deviance stereotype. (one and a half star off) ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Jan 24, 2015 |
I truly admire how the author, with artful understatement, generates suspense even though I knew from the very beginning of the story that Tom Ripley would get away scot-free no matter what heinous acts he would perpetrate. How did I know this? (I haven't seen the movie) Because anyone who searches for this book will see that there are sequels that feature this character (and therefore I don't consider this disclosure a spoiler). Still, I read on with great anticipation to the end. This truly is an example of great writing.

Some might find the ending a bit anti-climatic, but knowing there were sequels, I expected something of that nature.

Highsmith does a great job of making Ripley a sympathetic character. Although reviewers have referred to him as a sociopath, this is not an accurate label, (having recently read up on this subject myself), in that he does not fit that profile, namely an extroverted, dynamic, self-confident charming individual totally lacking empathy for others. Risk-taking, impulsiveness, and a mastery over fear are certainly among his attributes. but he is basically a shy person with low self-esteem who would rather be someone else other than Tom Ripley. Despite what he does, I found myself feeling for him, and disliking the other characters that surround him - again I attribute this to the skill of the author because the other characters were not necessarily odious.

I loved this book and I enjoyed reading it. One caveat, however. It is quite clear that the narrative is from Ripley's perspective throughout the whole book, and so there was no need whatsoever to end any sentence, "..Tom thought, which breaks the flow of an otherwise fluid prose and unfortunately this occurs numerous times.
Other than that, I have no qualms about recommending this book to other readers who enjoy suspense and roguish characters.
( )
1 vote BBcummings | Dec 24, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Highsmith, Patriciaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prestini, Maria GraziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walz, MelanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Tom glanced behind him and saw the man coming out of the Green Cage, heading his way.
Tom writhed in his deck chair as he thought of it, but he writhed elegantly, adjusting the crease of his trousers.
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Book description
Plein Soleil is the French name for The Talented Mr. Ripley. A film version of the same name made in 1960 starred Alain Delon.
Haiku summary
Tom's deadly passage
He wants to help Dickie now
Into the next life


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679742298, Paperback)

One of the great crime novels of the 20th century, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is a blend of the narrative subtlety of Henry James and the self-reflexive irony of Vladimir Nabokov. Like the best modernist fiction, Ripley works on two levels. First, it is the story of a young man, Tom Ripley, whose nihilistic tendencies lead him on a deadly passage across Europe. On another level, the novel is a commentary on fictionmaking and techniques of narrative persuasion. Like Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripley seduces readers into empathizing with him even as his actions defy all moral standards.

The novel begins with a play on James's The Ambassadors. Tom Ripley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve Greenleaf's son, Dickie, from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Dickie, it seems, is held captive both by the Mediterranean climate and the attractions of his female companion, but Mr. Greenleaf needs him back in New York to help with the family business. With an allowance and a new purpose, Tom leaves behind his dismal city apartment to begin his career as a return escort. But Tom, too, is captivated by Italy. He is also taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf. He insinuates himself into Dickie's world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends moral compunction. Tom will become Dickie Greenleaf--at all costs.

Unlike many modernist experiments, The Talented Mr. Ripley is eminently readable and is driven by a gripping chase narrative that chronicles each of Tom's calculated maneuvers of self-preservation. Highsmith was in peak form with this novel, and her ability to enter the mind of a sociopath and view the world through his disturbingly amoral eyes is a model that has spawned such latter-day serial killers as Hannibal Lecter. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:17 -0400)

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The cunning schemes of a young American ne'er-do-well, who travels to Italy on an unusual assignment.

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