How Paul De Man Was Like Mr. Ripley

Peter Brooks writes: ‘In “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Patricia Highsmith created high drama from imposture: the almost unbearable tension of suspense that comes with living a double life. That novel seems to have inspired Evelyn Barish’s notion of how to write the biography of Paul de Man (pictured, left, with Renee and Theodore Weiss). “With every passing year,” she tells us of de Man in the 1950s, “he felt a little more safe, but the stakes were high and the anxiety never left him.” That’s a good novelistic premise. A biographer has to earn it.’

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