The Secret History

The Secret History

Book - 1992
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Random House, Inc.
Donna Tartt, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her most recent novel, The Goldfinch, established herself as a major talent with The Secret History, which has become a contemporary classic.

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Baker & Taylor
A transfer student from a small town in California, Richard Papen is determined to affect the ways of his Hampden College peers, and he begins his intense studies under the tutelage of eccentric Julian Morrow. BOMC & QPB Alt. Tour.

Blackwell North Amer
Storytelling in the grand manner, The Secret History is a debut remarkable for its hypnotic erudition and acute psychological suspense, and for the richness of its emotions, ideas, and language.
These are the confessions, years afterward, of a young man who found at a small Vermont college the life of privilege and intellect he'd long coveted - and rarely has the glorious experience of youth infatuated with knowledge and with itself been so achingly realized. Then, amazed, Richard Papen is drawn into the ultimate inner circle: five students, worldly and self-assured, selected by a charismatic classics professor to participate in the search for truth and beauty. Together they study the mysteries of ancient Greek culture and spend long weekends at an old country house, reading, boating, basking in an Indian summer that stretches late into autumn.
Mesmerized by his new comrades, Richard is unaware of the crime which they have committed in his dreamy, unwitting presence. But once taken into their confidence, he and the others slowly and inevitably begin to believe in the necessity of murdering the one classmate and friend who might betray both their secret and their future.
Hugely ambitious and compulsively readable, this is a chronicle of deception and complicity, of Dionysian abandon, of innocence corrupted by self-love and moral arrogance; and, finally, it is a story of guilt and responsibility. An astonishing achievement by any standard, The Secret History immediately establishes Donna Tartt as a supremely gifted novelist.

& Taylor

A transfer student from a small town in California, Richard Papen is determined to affect the ways of his Hampden College peers, and he begins his intense studies under the tutelage of eccentric Julian Morrow

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1992.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780679410324
Branch Call Number: TAR
Characteristics: 523 p. ; 25 cm.


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Oct 23, 2017

Contrary to many others, I didn't find this book ponderous in the least. Instead, I enjoyed the realistic pace at which events steadily unfolded in retrograde and through recollection, and was completely glued to it. Richard as narrator is our counterpart as the reader: passive at first - more of a voyeur to the group whose relationships with each other and their professor cannot be known prior to our introduction - but soon enough a confidante in the circle left wrestling with what's been revealed. My rating was knocked down a bit because I was disappointed that Julian remains distant for the most part, like we can't really know him (although this does figure in later). I want to know about the students' experience with him up to that point and how his teaching set everything in motion. I just wanted MORE backstory and to know their relationships with the ancient Greek literature and culture that made up the core of their study... To speak to the connection between this work and The Goldfinch, I see it in Richard and Theo, in that they are kind of sophists moving in their adopted worlds; for Richard it is that of his well-off friends, and for Theo it is the world in general following the traumatic event that defined his life from that point.

CRRL_MegRaymond Sep 25, 2017

Six students at an elite New England University for a tight-knit circle. But they have more in common than studying Greek.

Aug 04, 2017

I admit I could not stop turning pages and read this book in about 2 days, staying up until 2 AM both times. And, it's kinda a joke, I had to stop and laugh at a lot of parts just because of how absurd these snobby children's sense of superiority is. It's a bit sensational... The characters, suspense, and slow indirect plot revelations are really well done.

Aug 04, 2017

I gave her a high rating because this woman writes better than anyone else I can think of, but the book will not appeal to everyone. It is a story about unusual, amoral characters who exist in an amoral setting and who eventually do evil things. I didn't find any of the characters appealing and kept wondering throughout whether Tartt spent a year in research before she started writing, or whether she is just a strange Geek. I googled her and discovered she is the latter.

EvaELPL Jun 28, 2017

A dark, twisting story about murder, Greco-Roman classicism, and boarding school, this story is elevated to a sum greater than its parts by Donna Tartt's impeccable writing. None of the characters here are especially likable, but Tartt writes them so brilliantly you'll be instantly drawn in by them anyway.

multcolib_susannel May 06, 2017

The question is not who killed Bunny, but why.

Jan 08, 2017

This book makes you examine the persuasive ability of someone's peers. At one point I wanted Bunny dead too!

Jan 05, 2017

This book was too dark, but more than that, I found no one to like.

VaughanPLAlyssia Jan 03, 2017

First I loved this book, then I hated it, then I loved it again. And now a week after I finished it, I can’t stop thinking about it. Stories about preppy college students with self-induced problems are my jam, for some reason. I am having such a hard time finding similar books to appease my withdrawal. I might just read this one all over again.

ChiPubLib_Adults Sep 14, 2016

Fall is in the air and classes are back in session. It's the perfect time for Donna Tartt's modern classic. Set against the backdrop of academic life, The Secret History, is a dark tale about an inner circle of students whose intense study of ancient Greek language and culture leads them to commit a heinous crime. The pace quickens as the group struggles to keep their secret under wraps and they begin to turn on each other. Tartt will have you up late cramming, but in a thoroughly enjoyable way.

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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.

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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Aug 19, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Aug 18, 2015

Other: incest


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Jun 02, 2016

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

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