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The Secret History by Donna Tartt
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The Secret History (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Donna Tartt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,425None273 (4.09)504
Member:stgemma
Title:The Secret History
Authors:Donna Tartt
Info:Penguin Books (1993), Paperback, 660 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:books I own, academia, college, crime, murder, New England, thriller

Work details

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)

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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» See also 504 mentions

English (232)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (250)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
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 |
Fiction/Murder Mystery

Classical Greek literature and language students in the pursuit of true Bacchanalia commit a murder, then another. But why? The Secret History is a suspense novel that reads like poetry yet contains all the best elements of a Greek tragedy.

Donna Tartt Shrine http://www.languageisavirus.com/donna_tartt/ ( )
  TheAlternativeOne | Mar 18, 2014 |
This book was intoxicating. The narrator, at the very beginning of the story, says that he believes his fatal flaw is “a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.” This kind of sums everything up in a way, for me at least.

Richard Papen, the narrator, is the newest member of an almost elite Classics course at Hampden College. There are only five other students in the group, and they are rather introverted and highly intellectual, almost to the point where I sometimes found myself incredibly annoyed by them. He quickly falls in with the rest of them, distancing himself from the rest of the school.

The prologue of the story doesn’t waste any time. Bunny, one of the six students, is murdered by the other five. We spend the rest of the story backtracking so that we can understand what compelled these kids to murder one of their best friends. I find it remarkable that although I knew what was going to happen, I found it highly suspenseful. The build-up to the murder was glorious, and when it finally happened I found myself exhaling as if I’d been holding my breath for the entire first half of the novel.

Something about the way this story was written was so compelling. It was rich in detail, but not to the point where it slowed the story down. I felt that it added an almost dreamy element to the whole thing, and that’s something I really love. I don’t want to spoil anything, because I feel that everyone needs to have the experience that I had with this one. It will leave you feeling haunted and empty, and it stays with you long after you turn the last page. ( )
  raisedbybooks | Mar 12, 2014 |
Dead poet's society gone horribly wrong, kind of thingy. Oddly engaging, though ( )
  sek_smith | Mar 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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!
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.

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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Editions: 0140167773, 0141037695

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