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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
12,573336190 (4.08)625
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)

  1. 192
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  2. 110
    The Likeness by Tana French (tangentialine, cransell, Skippy74, GodOfTheAnthill, Booksloth)
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  6. 50
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    kraaivrouw: Dionysian events at college ...
  7. 51
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  8. 62
    The Magus by John Fowles (WoodsieGirl)
  9. 30
    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.
  10. 30
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Dark happenings at elite New England schools.
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    Aquila: Though it's a much nicer book.
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Something disturbing sometimes happens when young people congregate. These gothic tales feature young, bohemian, and intellectual characters becoming caught up in relationships that lead to tragic results.
  16. 21
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  17. 10
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    Becchanalia: Slow uncovering of a dark secret amongst a tight-knit group of friends. Lots of snow.
  18. 10
    A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine (Bookmarque, KayCliff)
    Bookmarque: Reminiscent because of the group of students, but this murder is more shrouded and the supporting characters more distinct.
  19. 10
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    comtso: Mystery, murder and angst in college.
  20. 00
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(see all 30 recommendations)

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» See also 625 mentions

English (313)  Dutch (9)  Swedish (5)  French (5)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All (336)
Showing 1-5 of 313 (next | show all)
I heard about this book so much that I was convinced I wouldn't like it. I told myself I wasn't interested in white-kids-college-murder-club, but I guess I was wrong. There are a lot of elements to this that are, yes, ridiculous. I think going in knowing it would be a whole lot of Pretentious made it easier to read, because it's true that I might've rolled my eyes a bit at parts if I didn't know they were going to be there. The writing is amazing and I loved how deeply you can sink into the setting, characters, and story.

The copy I read is Emily's, the one she got from Shakespeare & Co. when she lived near Paris, and although she hated this book a lot (and while I think all of her complaints about it are entirely justified and true), it's also true that while narcissistic self-destruction isn't her cup of tea, it sure as hell can be mine. At the same time, I could not be less interested in popping pills and alcohol addiction in a college/upper-class society setting, I don't find it Interesting the way writers of Tartt's set so often seem to. It wasn't the drug-fueled parties or the "intellectual murder" akin to Leopold & Loeb or the characters of Hitchcock's Rope that arrested me, but the level of sometimes on point and sometimes misguided self-analysis and social observation that came through with Richard. I especially loved all that he missed, all that clicked later, and the fact that there are still some lingering questions about how involved each member of the party was, or how much Henry had orchestrated.

I'm keen to read [b:The Goldfinch|17333223|The Goldfinch|Donna Tartt|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1451554970s/17333223.jpg|24065147] now, though I assume it will wait a little while. I didn't realise till I was partway through this book, but I haven't read any fiction in a month and a half. I think I needed this badly. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Well shit. ( )
  kemilyh1988 | Jan 16, 2017 |
I know I read this book for an Intro to Lit class my Freshman year of college. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting to read classics (which I love). This book was ok, I don't really remember much about it. ( )
  Contusions | Dec 23, 2016 |
A good book, but I had a hard time giving it a perfect score because I was bored silly during parts of it. Obviously I'm in the minority...once again! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
3.5-A bit verbose for my tastes. Same story could have been told in fewer words and still have possessed the same meaning and elicited the same emotional response. ( )
  Heather_Brock | Nov 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 313 (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.
 
Well shit.
 

» 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
(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 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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