I had an unexpected surprise last week when one of my all-time favorite novels landed on my doorstep. Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game arrived complete with a wonderfully evocative cover. It came shrink-wrapped with a copy of Fydor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I was confused why these two books came wrapped together. So I did a little research.
But the beauty of the suspense genre is that a writer can write profound thoughts and have some sections without physical action if he wishes to, because the framework is an essentially lively story. Crime and Punishment is a splendid example of this. In fact, I think most of Dostoyevsky’s books would be called suspense books, were they being published today for the first time. But he would be asked to cut, because of production costs.
The novel was firstly filmed in a loose 1977 adaptation by Wim Wenders starring Dennis Hopper and entitled The American Friend. The novel was more faithfully adaptated for the screen in 2002 in a film that starred John Malkovich as Ripley.
The cover for the new Vintage edition is striking and I have asked the publishers for a print of the artwork for my dinning room.
It seems that the Vintage team is entering the out-of-copyright-classics market for the first time with these illustrious names being joined by the greatest writers from previous centuries, such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Henry James. This move is in keeping with the ambition of Vintage as a whole to bring the best writers of yesterday, today and tomorrow to as wide a readership as possible.
Apart from crime, Vintage has developed series of twin-packs for other genres, emotions and human conditions:
VINTAGE FANTASY: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
VINTAGE FEAR: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and The Complete Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm
VINTAGE LIES: Atonement by Ian McEwan and What Maisie Knew by Henry James
VINTAGE LOVE: Possession by A.S. Byatt and Middlemarch by George Eliot
VINTAGE LUST: The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis and Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
VINTAGE MONSTERS: Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
VINTAGE SATIRE: Atomised by Michel Houellebecq and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
VINTAGE SIN: Inferno by Dante Alighieri and Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
VINTAGE YOUTH: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
And — perhaps most delicious of all — if you can’t get enough of the amoral world of Patricia Highsmith, check here for some rare interviews archived by the BBC.