The Talented Mr. Ripley

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
First US edition
AuthorPatricia Highsmith
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesRipliad
GenreCrime novel
Publisher • Coward-McCann (United States)
 • Cresset Press (United Kingdom)
Publication date
November 30, 1955[1]
Media typePrint (hardback, paperback)
Pages252
OCLC2529516
Followed byRipley Under Ground 

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1955 psychological thriller novel by Patricia Highsmith. The novel introduced the character of Tom Ripley, who returns in four subsequent novels. It has been adapted numerous times for screen, including Purple Noon (1960) starring Alain Delon, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) starring Matt Damon, and Ripley starring Andrew Scott (2024).

Plot[edit]

Tom Ripley is a young man struggling to make a living in New York City by whatever means necessary, including a series of small-time confidence scams. One day, he is approached by shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf to travel to "Mongibello" (based on the resort town Positano), in Italy, to persuade Greenleaf's errant son, Dickie, to return to the United States and join the family business. Ripley agrees, exaggerating his friendship with Dickie, a half-remembered acquaintance, in order to gain the elder Greenleaf's trust.

Shortly after his arrival in Italy, Ripley contrives to meet Dickie and his friend, Marge Sherwood. Dickie allows Ripley to stay with him in his Italian summer home. As the two men spend more time together, Marge feels left out. Soon after Ripley arrives, Freddie Miles, a school friend of Dickie's, visits the summer home. Ripley immediately dislikes Freddie.

Dickie, concerned about Marge's feelings, becomes more attentive to her, and allows the relationship to become romantic. Ripley is enraged, and while nursing his feelings of jealousy and betrayal dresses up in Dickie's clothing and practices his mannerisms. Dickie walks in on him and reacts with shock and confusion.

Ripley senses that Dickie has begun to tire of him, resenting his constant presence and growing personal dependence. Ripley has indeed become obsessed with Dickie, which is further reinforced by his desire to imitate and maintain the wealthy lifestyle Dickie has afforded him. As a gesture to Ripley, Dickie agrees to travel with him on a short holiday to San Remo. Sensing that he is about to cut him loose, Ripley gets the idea to murder Dickie and assume his identity. When the two set sail in a small rented boat, Ripley beats him to death with an oar, dumps his anchor-weighted body into the water and scuttles the boat.

Ripley assumes Dickie's identity, living off the latter's trust fund and carefully providing communications to Marge to assure her that Dickie has dumped her. Ripley forges checks and changes his appearance to better resemble Dickie in order to continue the lavish lifestyle he has enjoyed. Freddie encounters Ripley at what he supposes to be Dickie's apartment in Rome, and he soon suspects something is wrong. When Freddie finally confronts him, Ripley kills him with a heavy glass ashtray in the apartment. He later disposes of the body on the outskirts of Rome, attempting to make the police believe that robbers have murdered Freddie.

Ripley enters a cat-and-mouse game with the Italian police but manages to keep himself safe by restoring his own identity and moving to Venice. In succession, Marge, Herbert, and an American private detective confront Ripley, who suggests to them that Dickie was depressed and may have committed suicide. Marge stays for a while at Ripley's rented house in Venice. When she discovers Dickie's rings in Ripley's possession, she seems to be on the verge of realizing the truth. Panicked, Ripley contemplates murdering Marge, but she is saved when she says that if Dickie gave his rings to Ripley, then he probably meant to kill himself.

The story concludes with Ripley traveling to Greece and resigning himself to eventually getting caught. However, he discovers that the Greenleaf family has accepted that Dickie is dead and that they have transferred his inheritance to Ripley – in accordance with a will forged by Ripley on Dickie's typewriter. While the book ends with Ripley happily rich, it also suggests that he may forever be dogged by paranoia. In one of the final paragraphs, he nervously envisions a group of police officers waiting to arrest him, and Highsmith leaves her protagonist wondering, "...was he going to see policemen waiting for him on every pier that he ever approached?" However, Ripley quickly dismisses this and proceeds with his trip.

Reception[edit]

In 1956, the Mystery Writers of America nominated the novel for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.[2] In 1957, the novel won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière as best international crime novel.[3]

On 5 November 2019, BBC News listed The Talented Mr. Ripley on its list of the 100 most inspiring novels.[4]

Adaptations[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The novel was first adapted for a January 1956 episode of the anthology television series Studio One.
  • Ripley, a series with Andrew Scott in the title role, started airing in April 2024. Announced in September 2019, it was originally intended for Showtime who commissioned an eight-episode first season, to be written and directed by Steven Zaillian who had pitched the series to the network.[5][6][7] However, the series was moved to Netflix in February 2023.[8]

Film[edit]

Radio[edit]

Audiobook[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Fiction[edit]

  • E. Lockheart's 2017 young adult novel Genuine Fraud is a retelling of the novel.[16]

See Also[edit]

The "Ripliad"

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "List of Books Published Today". The New York Times: 31. November 30, 1955.
  2. ^ Milligan, Michael (2011). "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Mystery Writers of America. Archived from the original on September 27, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  3. ^ "Guide des Prix littéraires". (in French) Guide des Prix littéraires, online ed. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  4. ^ "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-10. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.
  5. ^ O'Connell, Michael (25 September 2019). "Andrew Scott to Play Talented Mr. Ripley in Showtime Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Showtime Orders Drama Series Ripley with Andrew Scott in Title Role" (Press release). Showtime Press Express. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019 – via cbspressexpress.com.
  7. ^ Reddish, David (26 September 2019). "Out actor Andrew Scott, Fleabag's hot priest, to play Tom Ripley for Showtime". Queerty. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 10, 2023). "Ripley Showtime Limited Series Starring Andrew Scott Moving to Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  9. ^ Collis, Clark (December 12, 2008). "The Crazy Cult of 'The Room'". Entertainment Weekly. No. 1026. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  10. ^ Shatkin, Elina (April 27, 2007). "LAist Interviews Tommy Wiseau, The Face Behind The Billboard". LAist. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Baradwaj Rangan (7 September 2012). "Lights, Camera, Conversation… "The attempt to judge an attempt"". Baradwaj Rangan. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  12. ^ Malini Mannath (20 August 2012). "Naan (Tamil)". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  13. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Programmes – Saturday Play, The Complete Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley". BBC.co.uk, 28 February 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  14. ^ The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  15. ^ "Bionic Woman stars in Northampton". 15 September 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  16. ^ "The Library Ladies Review". 5 September 2017.

External links[edit]