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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History (1992)

by Donna Tartt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,868420256 (4.07)675
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 forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.… (more)
Recently added byrena40, zukunftsarchiv, mermcw76, Delacroix, carolacaldwell, yulischeidt, 6boysandme, avsujo, private library
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1990s (14)
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» See also 675 mentions

English (390)  Dutch (9)  French (6)  Swedish (6)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (418)
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
wow. the writing in this book is really something special. i mean, forget everything about the plot and the characters and the setting, just the language and the writing alone are incredible. she does something really magical with words here; i mean, this is impressive. and then add in the really excellent characterizations, the setting, the plot, and this is a real corker.

it's dense and a lot is packed into the 576 pages, but it moves swiftly, in spite of all the unusual - and therefore potentially uncomfortable, for a reader - aspects. the background information here - the elite college, the studies in classics (specifically greek, including some greek text), the references to more erudite books and scholarship, the incredible wealth - is probably foreign enough to most readers that none of these characters or the specificities in their lives are relatable at all. nor are they particularly likable or sympathetic. and yet. somehow, she makes me want to read about them and know what happens to them, even as i'm not sure that i care per say, if they come out okay or not.

this is my third time reading this book, and each time the characters seep into my head more than they tend to in most books. i dream of the characters, even as they aren't pleasant to be around. henry, especially. i think when i first read this i was young enough, and close enough to my own time in college, that it made me want to know more about the classics and greek in particular, to be more knowledgeable about what these kids were learning. now, not so much. but i still think the story clips right along and is executed excellently. this in spite of the fact that it seems super unlikely that in real life anyone would speak the way these characters do. (or, frankly, probably do what these characters do. but maybe that's part of the draw.)

usually loving the writing of a book this much would make me read everything she writes, and maybe one day i will, but somehow this time it makes me want to just read this book over and over and over again.

"...I was in a daze. The Corcorans sat very quietly, hands in laps: how can they just sit there? I thought, by that awful pit, do nothing? It was Wednesday. On Wednesdays at ten we had Greek Prose Composition and that was where we all ought to have been now. The coffin lay dumbly by the grave. I knew they wouldn't open it, but I wished they would. It was just starting to dawn on me that I would never see him again." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | May 20, 2020 |
I knew, going into this book, that it was a melodrama about rich kids and I didn't want to like it. I almost stopped reading when the author thanked Bret Easton Ellis for all of his suppport. But goddamn it is so hard to stop reading! Color me spellbound! ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
I read The Secret History on recommendations from people I follow on social media. It's not what I would normally read but it was good. Very good. My version was 629 pages and I didn't get bored once. The whole book is woven together well, the language is so pleasant and the sentences are well formed. I learnt a few words. Scarily I found I identified a little too much with Henry for my liking. Whilst normally I would grow to dislike these characters, I found that I was cleverly led to sympathise with them instead. (or perhaps it's just me and my too-much-like Henry personality). Oh well, if nothing else this book has made me feel better about pursuing a science based degree where presumably I won't be involved in a bacchanal. The Secret History is essentially a modern Greek tragedy. ( )
  mochibun | May 8, 2020 |
I really liked Part I of this book. Getting to know the characters leading up to the "big event." But the Part II just dragged on and on. I read this book because some people liked it more than The Goldfinch but that slow moving 2nd half makes that questionable for me. ( )
  kayanelson | Apr 27, 2020 |
Attempted to read this for my book club, but couldn't finish it. Donna Tartt is not for me, I'm afraid. ( )
  sarahemmm | Apr 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 390 (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 (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tartt, Donnaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, ChipDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landolfi, IdolinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, Barbara deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsen, IdaLouTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siikarla, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.
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.
Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen
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?
...how I longed to be an orphan when I was a child!
[They were] sitting at a table that was spread with papers and pens and bottles of ink. The bottles of ink I remember particularly, because I was very charmed by them, and by the long black straight pens, which looked incredibly archaic and troublesome.
[The tutor] reached for a pen in a cup on his desk; amazingly, it was full of Montblanc fountain pens, Meisterstucks, at least a dozen of them.
"Guess what," said Bunny, "Henry bought himself a Montblanc pen." ... He nodded at the cup of sleek black pens that sat on Julian's desk. "How much are those things worth? ... Three hundred bucks a pop? ... I remember when you used to say how ugly they were. You used to say you'd never write with a thing in your life but a straight pen." ... Bunny picked [the pen] up and turned it back and forth in his fingers. "It's like the fat pencil I used to use in first grade," he said. ... "Now, what kind of pens do we all use here? Francois, you're a nib-and-bottle man like myself, no? ... and you, Robert? What sort of pens did they teach you to use in California?" "Ball points," I said.
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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...
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Average: (4.07)
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1.5 10
2 181
2.5 60
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140167773, 0141037695

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