The Secret History

The Secret History

Book - 2004
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"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 they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last -- inexorably -- into evil." -- Back cover.
Publisher: New York :, Vintage Books ;, Toronto :, Random House of Canada, Limited, 2004.
Edition: First Vintage Contemporaries edition.
Copyright Date: ©1992
ISBN: 9781400031702
1400031702
Branch Call Number: FIC TART
Characteristics: 559 pages ; 21 cm

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Added 6/14/20. Recommended by Justin.


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johnjamison
Jul 27, 2020

While the characters have flaws and r probably like no one you know they are interesting and the chaos of their lives leaves them little wiggle room.

ChChlibgirl Jun 14, 2020

An utterly absorbing, atmospheric read about a close-knit group of American college students studying Ancient Greek, who end up locked on a sinister and increasingly troublesome path toward darkness. Donna Tartt has a gift for description and draws you in to each exquisitely crafted scene.

j
JoyERancatore
Jun 06, 2020

With no innocent characters, The Secret History takes readers on a compelling journey into the human psyche. In this cerebral literary novel, classical students will find more than a few opportunities to chuckle, even in the midst of total disaster and lives lost too soon. After too many years of not reading this book, I am so glad I finally did. Donna Tartt masterfully tilts phrases and bares characters in a truly compelling manner. I look forward to reading more of her work.

j
JLMason
May 17, 2020

Over five hundred pages is a long time to spend with such unlikeable, self-absorbed, dissolute individuals who can justify taking human life. Yet I read on through the cloying minutiae of their daily lives, intrigued by where it would end. The story unfolds like a modern Greek tragedy from the prologue to the exodus: family conflict, untimely death, sex, Dionysian excess. Privileged young people, caught up in their special classics program under a charismatic instructor, enact a bacchanal that leads to a fateful event. Henry is the tragic character whose errors in judgement lead to calamitous destruction; none in the group emerges unscathed. The Secret History is well-written and compelling reading, but also a long, drawn out journey that immerses the reader in the misery and downfall of its characters.

e
eusebius
Mar 07, 2020

I've read it three times. The first time on publication, a few years after I graduated from university where I'd been a classics major. If you ask how young people can get so obsessed with Greek and Roman culture to the point where they reenact a scene from The Bacchae, just remember youth is the age of greatest enthusiasm for ideas. Look at the Society for Creative Anachronism, if it still exists (there was a chapter on my campus). I still find Tartt's writing to be enchanting, and I don't mind the pages devoted to the hero's dorm mates who don't advance the story but who possess a certain wacky charm.

p
Poquette
Oct 23, 2019

Although a bit over long, this is a pretty good novel of suspense. My only problem with it is the narration, which was done by the author. The novel is in the first person by a male protagonist, which creates an ongoing disconnect right off the bat. How anyone thought it was a good idea to use an untrained female voice for a story where most of the main characters are male is perplexing. And let's not whitewash here: Donna Tartt is a terrible narrator! This is the worst audio, among hundreds, that I have ever listened to. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any alternatives to Ms Tartt's annoying voice and diction.

f
fionajay
Apr 02, 2019

Great thriller that really took me back to university days - not that ever fell through a roof, or killed one of my classmates...twitch. Beautifully realised setting, delicately described relationships and clever - though not too literary- language. A psychology of the effects of murder on all the perpetrators. Ticks all the boxes.

b
Byond
Feb 14, 2019

For me much resistance at first but in the end up late not being able to put it down. Perhaps fueled by emotional energies ready to demonize old money and other elites. The Times review is on the money. (https://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/04/books/books-of-the-times-students-indulging-in-course-of-destruction.html), although there might be at least a redemption light for one character.
The length of the book might point to respect for the author's first work, which this is. Like many other works, the concluding pages update the reader on subsequent developments in the life of the characters. That this extended to some that played very minor roles is indicative of something.
Full of food for thought but I wouldn't go as far as one has here to planning an annual read.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Nov 27, 2018

The Secret History is the gateway into the world of dark academia. It's dark tone and thoughtful, introspective narrative make it a heavy read, but a worthwhile one. It has a fairly slow pace that makes you pay attention to the details to get an understanding of what’s going on. It’s use of rich imagery and poetic descriptions gives the reader a vivid idea of people and places. All of the characters are complex and feel very real in how they behave. The progression of the plot flows in a natural way from one event to the next. The bits of wisdom about life, intelligence, people, love, and beauty that are interwoven throughout the story changed the way I view things in my life. Overall, reading this book felt like a spiritual experience and left me feeling an echo of the story for days. 5/5
- @nickreads of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

d
dukemarmalade
Oct 25, 2018

This book makes me nostalgic for a cold, picturesque college campus I never went to--eternally shrouded in fog. It has a timeless feel for a specific time I can't quite place (I often had to remind myself that it was not set in England earlier in the twenteith century). I want to read it near a fireplace in the dark of winter, every year. The characters are real and gripping. You may be unsure of who to dislike or love, but you will be sure to eat up every last word even though you won't want it to end.

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whataread
Sep 27, 2019

I felt transported into a world that was not overtly familiar to me but covertly, it hit the spot. It was like a 5 course meal that you savor, looking forward to tasting more depth of all sorts. Fantastic emotional studies.

g
gold1fishes
Aug 04, 2017

actually they're studying ancient Greek, and their social bond is a sense of superiority over the other students as well as local working-class people, and they do horrible things over the course of 1 school year, told from point of view of an incoming freshman who pretends to be rich like them because he admires their inhumane snobbery and is bored and ashamed of his own background.

b
booksophie
Jun 01, 2016

Six college friends become more closely connected through their secluded study of Latin, but all they believed to be true about one another and their intentions crumbles when a series of unpredictable events spirals out of control.

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VV12
Aug 19, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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VV12
Aug 18, 2015

Other: incest

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rebmartin31
Jun 02, 2016

"Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

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