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The Secret History by Donna Tartt
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The Secret History (1992)

by Donna Tartt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,425None273 (4.09)504
1001 (78) 1001 books (63) 20th century (82) academia (124) American (127) American fiction (48) American literature (96) classics (82) college (223) contemporary fiction (69) crime (171) favorite (50) fiction (1,448) friendship (62) Greek (76) literature (100) murder (322) mystery (352) New England (124) novel (217) read (168) Roman (82) students (49) suspense (46) thriller (157) to-read (169) university (61) unread (59) USA (105) Vermont (122)
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  3. 60
    The Likeness by Tana French (tangentialine, cransell, Skippy74, GodOfTheAnthill, Booksloth)
    tangentialine: Same sense of the mysterious, same sense of intense psychological speculation.
  4. 50
    Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Dionysian events at college ...
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  8. 52
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    The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (yokai)
  10. 20
    A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George (DAR1102)
  11. 20
    The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (zembla)
    zembla: A clique of elitist students' involvement in murder, told in foreboding prose. Tartt's writing is quietly eerie where Handler's is showily clever, reflecting the difference in their narrators' ages.
  12. 10
    Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (Aquila)
    Aquila: Though it's a much nicer book.
  13. 10
    The Raising by Laura Kasischke (mistydream)
    mistydream: Mystery, murder and angst in college.
  14. 10
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (stricken)
  15. 10
    A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: Reminiscent because of the group of students, but this murder is more shrouded and the supporting characters more distinct.
  16. 00
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  17. 00
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    Becchanalia: Slow uncovering of a dark secret amongst a tight-knit group of friends. Lots of snow.
  18. 00
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Dark happenings at elite New England schools.
  19. 00
    Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates (kraaivrouw)
  20. 22
    The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel by Steven Sherrill (Booksloth)

(see all 26 recommendations)

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» See also 504 mentions

English (235)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (253)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Wonderful thriller! Told by Richard, this is the story of a series of chilling events that happened during one year at a Vermont college. it's written as a memoir, from the vantage point of years down the line looking back. He takes you through the background, how he ended up at Hampden in the first place, his meeting with the twins, Charles & Camilla, Bunny the mooch, Francis, the group's gay man, Henry, the cool, calm, & collected rich boy, & Julian, the eccentric Greek professor who is the glue that holds the group together. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 17, 2014 |
I really wanted to like Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Especially since I'm reading The Goldfinch and am really liking it. The Secret History is the classic middle class/scholarship kid getting wrapped up with the affluent rich kids in a quaint college. Richard Papen, after working his butt off to transfer from his humdrum college in California, attends Hampden College in Vermont. Because he studied Greek for two years decides to become a Classics major. The Classics program is very selective and small only having 5 students.

After hearing about a ritual that requires the loss of conscious self, 4 of the 6 students decide to embark on it with disasterous and murderous consequences.

Now, the summary of the book makes it seem that the students meet their downfall because of their "charismatic professor" but that wasn't the case. They may have gotten the whole madness ritual from him but the professor, albeit arrogant, wasn't insidious.

The characters were horrible. I teeter from liking Richard and screaming at him to grow a spine. The rest, Camilla, Charles, Henry, Francis, and Bunny, were horrendous and pretentious. God, their swarmy arrogance seeped in the pages. The incestous relationship between Camilla and Charles was gross. I couldn't tell the difference, at times, between Charles and Francis. I had hopes for Henry, whom I thought was going to go full out psychopath, but alas no. He was destined for a more anticlimatic ending.

The Secret History was needlessly too long and the narrative was excessive. Tartt made me work for the ending, the last 50 pages, which became quite compelling but ultimately, it wasn't worth it and I was extremely disappointed with it. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
I really wanted to like Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Especially since I'm reading The Goldfinch and am really liking it. The Secret History is the classic middle class/scholarship kid getting wrapped up with the affluent rich kids in a quaint college. Richard Papen, after working his butt off to transfer from his humdrum college in California, attends Hampden College in Vermont. Because he studied Greek for two years decides to become a Classics major. The Classics program is very selective and small only having 5 students.

After hearing about a ritual that requires the loss of conscious self, 4 of the 6 students decide to embark on it with disasterous and murderous consequences.

Now, the summary of the book makes it seem that the students meet their downfall because of their "charismatic professor" but that wasn't the case. They may have gotten the whole madness ritual from him but the professor, albeit arrogant, wasn't insidious.

The characters were horrible. I teeter from liking Richard and screaming at him to grow a spine. The rest, Camilla, Charles, Henry, Francis, and Bunny, were horrendous and pretentious. God, their swarmy arrogance seeped in the pages. The incestous relationship between Camilla and Charles was gross. I couldn't tell the difference, at times, between Charles and Francis. I had hopes for Henry, whom I thought was going to go full out psychopath, but alas no. He was destined for a more anticlimatic ending.

The Secret History was needlessly too long and the narrative was excessive. Tartt made me work for the ending, the last 50 pages, which became quite compelling but ultimately, it wasn't worth it and I was extremely disappointed with it. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
This is an outstanding novel about a young man (Richard) who enrolls at an exclusive Vermont college primarily to get away from his parents, who basically don't want him around anyway. After much effort he is accepted as a student by Julian Morrow, who teaches ancient Greek language, literature and culture to select students. Besides Richard, Julian has only five other students, a collection of strange, fairly well-off young people who live a fairly isolated existence within the general student community.

The novel is an excellent study of the maturation of college-age people - old enough to understand the world around them, but still young enough to experience that world impulsively - even recklessly. They delve into alcohol, drugs, sex - even betrayal and murder. Ultimately they realize that there is a price to pay for the lifestyle they chose, and they finally come to realize that they are perhaps unwilling and unable to pay that price.

The only reason for not giving the book five stars is that the first chapter seems, in many ways, pretentious, and perhaps borders on the pedantic. Everything after the first chapter is more "accessible," and is an excellent example of exemplary writing skill. ( )
  jpporter | Apr 12, 2014 |
Interesting book about a murder that takes place at an east coast college amongst students of the classics. Set in the same world as Brett Easton Ellis's work. A bit drawn out. ( )
  JK135 | Apr 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
As a ferociously well-paced entertainment, ... "The Secret History" succeeds magnificently. Forceful, cerebral and impeccably controlled, "The Secret History" achieves just what Ms. Tartt seems to have set out to do: it marches with cool, classical inevitability toward its terrible conclusion.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tartt, Donnaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lange, Barbara deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siikarla, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.
-- PLATO,
Republic, Book II
I enquire now as to the genesis of a philologist and assert the following:
1. A young man cannot possibly know what Greeks and Romans are.
2. He does not know whether he is suited for finding out about them.
-- FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE,
Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen
Dedication
For Bret Easton Ellis,
whose generosity will never cease to warm my heart;
and for Paul Edward McGloin,
muse and Maecenas,
who is the dearest friend I will ever have in this world.
First words
The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation. (Prologue)
Does such a thing as "the fatal flaw," that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature?
Quotations
...how I longed to be an orphan when I was a child!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldy, self-assured, and, first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another...a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life...and led to a gruesome death., And that was just the beginning...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140167773, Paperback)

Truly deserving of the accolade "Modern Classic", Donna Tartt's novel "The Secret History" is a remarkable achievement - both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful. Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever. "It takes my breath away". (Ruth Rendell). "Enthralling ...image the plot of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment crossed with the story of Euripides' "Bacchae" set against the backdrop of Bret Easton Ellis' "The Rules of Attraction"...forceful, cerebral and impeccably controlled...ferociously well-paced...remarkably powerful". ("The New York Times"). Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and educated at the University of Mississippi and Bennington College. She is a novelist, essayist, and critic and author of "The Little Friend". "The Secret History" has been translated into twenty-four languages.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life -- in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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