Bookclub - Donna Tartt's Secret History. Friday 03 January 2014, 14:33. Jim Naughtie. Jim Naughtie presents Bookclub on BBC Radio 4. Tagged with. The Secret History has 130243 ratings and 9182 reviews. Apparently Donna Tartt was well-versed in this theme, as it is prevalent in The.
The Secret History [ Donna Tartt ] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Donna Tartt, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her most recent novel.
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When The Secret History was published in September 1992, hype had been building for months. The author, Donna Tartt, was 28. She had. The Secret History By Donna Tartt 524 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $23. How best to describe Donna Tartt's enthralling first novel? Imagine the plot.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Reviewed by Ted Gioia. In Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rope (1948), based in part on the Leopold.
and Loeb murder case of 1924, two students are inspired by the. teachings of a Nietzschean prep school housemaster (played by. James Stewart in perhaps his most atypical role) to commit a. murder. In their zeal to go “beyond good and evil,” they strangle a. former classmate, and almost flaunt the evidence to enhance their. sense of superiority.
Much of the horror in this film comes from the. strange motivation of the killers—after all who commits murder as. part of an intellectual quest for self-actualization.
The underlying inspiration for the act in this instance comes not. from a Nietzschean teacher, but rather via the influence of a soft-. spoken and kindly professor of classics, who teaches these five.
students ancient Greek. His relationship with this small group of.
undergraduates develops into an unhealthy cult of personality with a. distinctively pagan flavor.
By gradual steps his coterie of followers. become obsessed with bacchanalian rites, a path which inevitably. leads to a vicious spiral of bloodshed. There is much to admire in Tartt’s novel, but. it is especially laudable for how persuasively. she chronicles the steps from studying classics.
to committing murder. This is a difficult transi-. tion to relate in a believable manner, and all.
the more difficult given Tartt’s decision to tell. the story from the perspective of one of the. most genial of the conspirators.
Her story. could easily come across as implausible—or.
even risible—in its recreation of Dionysian. rites on a Vermont college campus, and its. attempt to convince us that a mild-mannered. transfer student with a taste for ancient languages can evolve. through a series of almost random events, into a killer.
Yet convince. us she does, and the intimacy with which Tartt brings her readers. into the psychological miasma of the unfolding plot is one of the.
most compelling features of The Secret History. A telltale scene, reveling this author’s mastery, comes early in the. novel. Richard Papen, our narrator, has just been allowed to join the. small clique of students who take almost all of their classes from the.
charmingly eccentric classics professor Julian Morrow. At his first. class, Morrow delivers an eloquent, but ominous, talk about the.
ancient Greeks’ comfort with the irrational—which the professor. contrasts with the Roman’s obsession with order and attendant.
attempt to eliminate, or ignore, the dark side of human dealings. This interlude evokes in brilliant strokes Morrow’s charisma, his.
erudition, and the hothouse atmosphere of his classroom. Yet the. philosophical values that the professor sets out here foreshadow. many of the later incidents in this smartly plotted book. This is. Tartt at her best, deliciously blending the abstract and concrete, the.
theoretical and the practical, the present charged with the historical. past and all the fatalistic aspects of the unfolding future. Even though the novel is set in Vermont, with a few scenes overseas. or on the West Coast, the Mississippi-born Tartt somehow brings to. bear a Southern Gothic atmosphere to her story.
The setting. Hampden College, resembles Bennington, where Tartt transferred in. 1982, after first gaining some notoriety for her work under the. direction of Barry Hannah at Ole Miss, and the plot parallels to some. degree the unsolved case of a missing Bennington student from the. 1940s.
Yet Tartt’s fascination with the paradoxical ways violence. can coexist with refinement and delicacy is reminiscent of Eudora. Welty, Flannery O’Connor and those other Southern ladies who mix.
an extra dose of Id in their Superego. The only disappointing aspect of The Secret History is what. happened in its aftermath.
Despite the critical acclaim and. commercial success of this brilliant debut, released when the author. was 28—a work sometimes described as the most celebrated first. novel of the 1990s—Tartt only published one book during her.
thirties, and by the time we see her third novel she will be in her late. With such meager output, this writer has fallen out of the literary. limelight—a fickle source of splendor under the best of. Donna Tartt wrestles with a very similar. scenario in her unconventional novel The.
Secret History. a murder mystery in. reverse which (like Hitchcock's film) starts. with the crime, and then tantalizes the.