Nearly 70 Years Later, ‘Invisible Man’ Is Still Inspiring Visual Artists

Ralph Ellison’s classic 1952 novel has influenced not just writers but photographers, sculptors and painters, all grappling with what it means to be seen.

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The Many Faces of Patricia Highsmith

As the subject of no fewer than three biographies since her death in 1995, the popular writer lived a complicated, if fascinating, life. What was she really like?

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Do Patricia Highsmith Novels Make Good Films?

The author’s oeuvre has long been the subject of cinematic preoccupation, inspiring over 20 screen adaptations and counting. Here, a close read of four of the best and worst of them.

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In ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley,’ a Shape-Shifting Protagonist Who’s Up to No Good

Patricia Highsmith published the first novel in her series of psychological thrillers in 1955, embedding her own repression, snobbery and sense of chaos into the text.

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The Performance of Racial Passing

Though Nella Larsen’s classic 1929 novel is understood to be a tragedy, it also exposes race to be something of a farce.

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Undine Spragg’s Life in Objects

Beauty, charm and luck all factor into the social ascent of Edith Wharton’s ambitious protagonist — but money, crucially, matters the most.

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How Can We Read Edith Wharton Today?

Published in 1913, “The Custom of the Country” follows the social rise of Undine Spragg, a fictional character who, in many ways, feels very modern.

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Who James Baldwin Knew

The celebrated writer moved between many worlds, becoming close friends with major figures — from Marlon Brando to Toni Morrison — in art, activism and beyond.

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What the Church Meant for James Baldwin

Although he ultimately rejected Pentecostalism, the writer captured its pathos and ability to bear witness to Blackness in America in his first novel.

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