1. The story starts with a murder. The first trick of the novelist is her most successful: Richard Pappin (her protagonist) tells us in a prologue about Bunny, the rabbit’s death. This act was “for which I was partially responsible”. While he may have got away with the crime, the incident haunts him. “This is my only story.” To find out why he did it, we’ll have to read more. Coleridge stated that Shakespeare always placed apprehension above surprise. Donna Tartt lives by this exact principle. While you’re reading The Secret History: The Book it isn’t as often think about what could occur as we worrying about what might occur.
2. It is obsessed with Ancient Greece. Donna Tartt is a perfect example of what literary parents tell their children: Nothing can surpass the power and influence of Greek myths. The characters of the novel are so convinced by their belief in the mythology, that they end up performing one. Through its narrator, the novel is also fascinated with Greek philosophy and history. Hampden is the fictional Hampden University. Hampden allows us to be in touch the most fascinating civilizations and join Julian Morrow’s elite Hellenophiles Class.
3. It includes all the best aspects of the novel’s campus. It is the perfect image of the campus in which the novel takes place: green shutters and clapboards with a clock tower and ivied bricks. Everybody who has ever gone to university is amazed at this subgenre, where we can relive our childhood years and pretend to be adults. This subgenre is equally appealing to those who have not graduated. The gilded youth can be silly and free to have fun. Human weaknesses are mixed with high-quality pretensions. While this can be comical, Tartt has the intelligence to see the darker side.
4. It’s a classic, with a solo narration. Richard Pappin is well-prepared to capture your attention. He is uncaring and dismal, with no family support and compassion, and he is here at university to find a better life, especially one that involves the mind. The brilliant student is from nowheresville and determined to make history. The student at Hampden is fascinated to be with five intelligent, eccentric, conniving students studying Greek together. They are able to protect their minds from other students. He does more than befriend them. He also projects his dreams and hopes onto them. His story is told with passion and intensity.
5. Quotations are a common feature of the book. Richard refers to Rimbaud in a few paragraphs (unattributed and untranslated). There are many beautiful and insightful words in the book, written in Latin or Greek authentic fragments. The reader enters a world of literary, linguistic and otherworldly riches. The viewers are looking beyond the pages of the novel and are using cliches as topics to discuss, but you’re inside the best that’s been thought and written.
6. The university’s chief of ceremonies is a charming figure. Only one ancient Greek instructor, Julian, is allowed to teach at the university. He is capable of accepting a small number of intellectually qualified students. Charming, charismatic, and sardonic, the professor is an academic magus who guides the dreams of students. “I hope that we are all ready to enter the extraordinary world and leave behind the phenomenal.” In a humorous manner, he asks at the beginning of one of his strange classes. Richard and his fellow students follow a cult. Julian, the priest of the secular church, is funny, insightful and mocking.
7. It is obsessed with beauty. Tartt’s narrative isn’t particularly concerned with sexual pleasure. It is easily enthralled in beauty, no matter how natural, poetic, or human. This novel highlights how important the concept of beauty is for all and why it is rarely discussed. “Khalepa ta kala. Beauty is harsh. (In Greek, “harsh”, and “beauty,” are identical words. It can be described in one sentence as “about my first Greek sentence” and later becomes an instruction for Richard. Alexander Pope stated that Richard is overwhelmed by beauty that “shocks you”. Beauty is a way to break the cycle of boredom.
8. It believes that fate is in control. Richard recalls his life and notices the seemingly random events that led him to this story. He believes it’s accidental (he uses Hampden because a copy of the book is in his jacket pocket), but it appears that the story is being told is planned. Julian says, “Psychology is simply another word for what ancients called fate.” Julian. This ancient belief is the basis of the story.
9. It is the possession Dionysos. Friedrich Nietzsche recognized that Greek tragedy results from the struggle between the power of reason-giving Apollo, and the captivating Dionysos. Richard, along with his instructor, is taught by his peers that the origins of wisdom don’t lie in Greek logic but also in pagan Ecstasy. DH Lawrence might have been awed at what Tartt learned from the God of drinking, and the rituals of madness. Take your clothes and go into the woods. Richard and his intelligent and foolish classmates are aspiring bachantes, and they must be taught about the dangers associated with loyalty.
10. You have access to all the secrets. Tartt is a great author. Richard and others are granted exclusive membership. The book’s introduction reveals the secret and we are certain there are other secrets. Every one of the millions of readers of The book Secret History has the wonderful illusion of being part of the most dangerous of trusts. It’s as though each reader is the first to read the book.
Donna Tartt discusses The Secret History with John Mullan at the Guardian Book Club on 19 November, 7pm. at the Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7. Tickets PS12.
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