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

by Donna Tartt

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12,688341187 (4.08)628
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)

Recently added byLemonBalmGirl, xholocene, Casplet, adam.koprowski, private library, anagabymtz08, jkrzok, harrietbrown, mrsrobin
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English (318)  Dutch (9)  Swedish (5)  French (5)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All (341)
Showing 1-5 of 318 (next | show all)
Quick review: man, this was fucked up. ( )
  anagabymtz08 | Jun 25, 2017 |
A small liberal arts college in Vermont is the setting for this one. A California kid of modest means hooks up with a very small group of trust fund undergrads and begins to study the classics. In nonlinear fashion, we find out who dies on the first page, and we know who did it and why before the midpoint of the story. Call it an extra credit project that goes horribly wrong. So this thing really isn't a mystery per se. Rather, the first half could be considered to have some mystery elements while the second half would be more of a psychological study of what happens to a closely knit group of people when the unthinkable happens. Overall, I liked the setting and the story, but the characters were just too much. I could handle the fact that the students seemed to have money to burn, as it was made clear that this was a school where rich kids were sent when they didn't have a lot of other options left. But in addition to their rarefied lifestyles, the kids just weren't likable. Not that they were *un*likable, but they just didn't merit the sort of emotional investment that would have kept me concerned and worried about their respective fates. Without exception, each was a selfish, self-absorbed, spoiled, navel-gazing twit who was overly fond of some combination of nicotine, alcohol, and other even worse chemicals. Actually, the fact that I liked them to any extent at all is a testament to Tartt's skills as a writer. Still, it didn't stop me from hoping that one or more of them might end up pancaked by a Greyhound bus, or some such thing. And while that didn't happen to anyone, I was glad that Tartt didn't take an easy or trite way out when it came to the various character resolutions. In short, I was hoping for a lot more from this one, and what I was given was not completely satisfying, with the failings falling entirely on the characterizations side of the equation. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
...............how am i supposed to talk about this book. when it's so unique that no words are enough to do it justice.
i had certain expectations but i definitely did not think i would love it this much. especially after i finished the first half and couldn't imagine what the second half would be about, because pretty much everything had been explained before. i thought it was going to be boring and uninteresting and just really dragged out; to be fair it is quite long. it was none of those things.
it was just as pretentious as i thought it would be, but each and every sentence felt like it had a purpose, like it wasn't put in the accidentally. the writing style is absolutely phenomenal, it's incredibly atmospheric?? i don't know i just know that it fits so so well to this kind of story.
my favourite part were the characters, who were so incredibly human, the like of which i haven't encountered before. and of course my favourite was henry, but i have a soft spot for all of them.
it's not particularly action-driven, it's quite slow and the main focus is always on the characters, but there are times when things happen so fast that you can't really wrap your head around it. and at some points i thought i knew where it was going and i wasn't very satisfied, but every time without fail at the right moment it took an unexpected turn and made me love it even more.
and then there's the ending. which was. so completely unforeseen on my part. i haven't seen anyone mention that this is one of those books that rips your heart out?? a warning would have been nice?? needless to say it made me cry for a solid 5 minutes. and i don't know how i feel about it.
now i think i can confidently say that this is my favourite book of all time and i would like to urge everyone to read it. right now. seriously do it. it's the best book. ( )
  Banoczi_Henrietta | Jun 19, 2017 |
The Secret History mimics a Greek tragedy. Richard Papen, who is studying the Classics is an outsider at a prestigious American college. He manages to become the sixth student in an Ancient Greek class, whose charismatic teacher normally allows only five students to enrol each year. The other five students who have been studying together for some time come from a background of wealth and privilege - not at all like Richard's hard-scrabble upbringing. The murder of one of the members of the group is revealed on the first page. The first half of the book deals with the events leading up to the murder and the murder itself. In the second half, the remainder of the group must deal with the aftermath of the act. Their tightly-knit group swiftly declines into fear, recrimination and remorse.

This book could best be described as a psychological thriller. The unravelling of the group is suspenseful and Donna Tartt is such a good writer that I actually found myself caring about people who would normally cause me to raise my eyebrows at their arrogance and entitlement. My only complaint? I would have liked to find out more about their teacher. There are plenty of hints about his control over his students but ultimately he manages to remain at arms-length and walk away from the situation.

This is a first novel for the author who goes on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. I'm not surprised - she is brilliant! ( )
  EvelynBernard | May 25, 2017 |
A modern-day Gothic masterpiece that's wrapped around a mystery - not about who did it- but about why they did it. The story is told with a tone of remorse as it follows a group of college students and their classics professor through a horrific act and its aftermath. From other reviews, this seems to be a love it or hate it read - much like A Little Life - which is the only other book I can begin to compare it to. ( )
  wandaly | May 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 318 (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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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!
[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.
Last words
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:56 -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 8 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140167773, 0141037695

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