Book Review: The Secret History

Donna Tartt’s modern classic The Secret History is an exceptionally written, satirical criticism of classicism and privilege.  The story is written from the perspective of Richard Papen, a Greek student studying all his classes exclusively with Julian Morrow, his professor and five other carefully selected students.  The first chapter exposes that the group has murdered one of their members and have successfully accomplished retribution.  As the outsider and unreliable narrator, Richard gives us a unique perspective on their journey by slowly gaining closeness amongst his peers and uncovering their dark, cult-like secrets.  Tartt cleverly utilizes symbolism and Neo-Freudianism in her highly illustrative writing style. The novel transports you to the world of six ostentatious Greek students who lose all sense of morality within society and form their own.  Their vain and self-regarding personalities along with copious amounts of money and drugs create a fraudulent realm in their minds where they can do as they see fit regardless of the consequences.  The Secret History continues to crescendo each time it appears to have peaked while having the reader question who the true villain is.  The reader will find themselves rooting for morally gray characters and pondering their own ideas of morality.  Their isolation from reality and the three-dimensional characters will have the reader laughing at the ridiculousness, mourning the story’s loss of innocence, and questioning their personal maxims.  This book is one of my favourites of all time and I’d easily rank it 5/5 stars.  If you enjoy modern classics, satire, morally grey characters, and dark academia, then you will definitely enjoy this novel.

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