The Secret History by <span class="author">Donna Tartt</span>

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

"The Secret History" is a novel written by Donna Tartt and published in 1992. Similar to her later work "The Goldfinch," this novel is known for its intricate prose, psychological depth, and exploration of complex relationships. "The Secret History" is a psychological thriller that delves into the dark and twisted world of a group of college students and their involvement in a murder.

Plot Overview:

The novel is narrated by Richard Papen, a young and impoverished student from California who transfers to an elite New England college. He becomes enamored with a group of five intellectually gifted and enigmatic students, led by the charismatic classics professor Julian Morrow. This group isolates themselves from the rest of the college community, forming a tight-knit circle that studies the classics together.

As Richard becomes increasingly intertwined with the group, he learns of their intense obsession with Greek culture and their efforts to recreate a Dionysian experience in their lives. The story takes a dark turn when one of the group members, Bunny Corcoran, is murdered. The rest of the narrative unfolds as a psychological exploration of the events leading up to the murder, the characters' complex motivations, and the aftermath that follows.


  1. Isolation and Exclusivity: The group's insular nature creates an atmosphere of exclusivity and detachment from the rest of the world. This isolation contributes to their unconventional behavior and choices.
  2. Guilt and Consequences: The characters grapple with guilt and the consequences of their actions, as they navigate the ethical and moral implications of their involvement in Bunny's murder.
  3. Obsession and Manipulation: The characters' obsession with the classics and their desire to transcend ordinary life lead them down a path of manipulation, deception, and ultimately, violence.
  4. Morality and Ethics: The novel explores the boundaries between right and wrong, and how individuals rationalize their actions based on their personal beliefs and desires.
  5. Power and Influence: The influence that Julian Morrow holds over his students and the dynamics of power within the group shape the characters' decisions and relationships.


"The Secret History" was a critically acclaimed debut for Donna Tartt and received praise for its atmospheric prose, intricate character development, and exploration of the darker aspects of human nature. The novel's examination of psychological motives, moral ambiguity, and the complex dynamics of friendships and alliances has made it a compelling and enduring work in the psychological thriller genre. It remains a favorite among readers who appreciate its exploration of intellectual pursuits and the intricate complexities of human behavior.

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