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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I love this book and am wondering if anyone else has read it and what they thought about it.

It would make one helluva movie, so am wondering why they did one of The Goldfinch (which I did not finish) but not this sordid little tale.

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by Anonymousreply 158November 30, 2021 10:56 AM

Absolutely one of my favorite books…I give it as a gift frequently

by Anonymousreply 1November 23, 2021 3:42 AM

Did you just learn to read?

That book has been out for almost 30 years.

by Anonymousreply 2November 23, 2021 3:45 AM

I've recommended it to many, R1, you have impeccable taste. She is a fine writer and I love the ending, the last scene always gives me chills. Henry is one of my favourite characters.

by Anonymousreply 3November 23, 2021 3:46 AM

Weird, I just picked this up (after sorta hearing about it for decades) after reading a New Yorker article about the professor at Bennington, Claude Fredericks, that the professor in The Secret History was based on.

Tartt went to Bennington and was Frederick's student. Frederick wrote a journal all his life that was to be "his great work of art"... apparently 75,000 pages. Although he had an interesting life (he was James Merrill's first lover) apparently the journal is pretty boring.

I am just 50 pages into The Secret History... ok, but not in love with it yet.

I also read that Tartt hated the movie made of The Goldfinch (written 15 years after The Secret History) to the point she fired her agent for letting it happen and is pretty reticent about letting The Secret History become a film.

by Anonymousreply 4November 23, 2021 3:46 AM

R2, so have many classics, and your point would be? Does one stop discussing them based on the length of their existence? Perhaps a novelty shop would suit you better than this thread.

by Anonymousreply 5November 23, 2021 3:47 AM

The Goldfinch SUCKED MY GRANDMA'S MONKEY BALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! However, if this one is good I may read it just to confirm that I am allergic to Donna's Tarts.

by Anonymousreply 6November 23, 2021 3:48 AM

R5 Yes,,,, R2's comment is like the old..."oh that, I liked their first album better... Sniff sniff."

by Anonymousreply 7November 23, 2021 3:49 AM

Those kids were annoying. Nobody talks like that. Lost interest after the first 20 pages. FAIL.

by Anonymousreply 8November 23, 2021 3:51 AM

After years of hype I finally read it. Except for bringing back memories of going to a LAC in the 1980s, it was just ok. A mystery novel of sorts with characters specific to a certain culture. She creates atmosphere. But overall the plot was kinda overwrought. Better than average but I failed to see why it’s hailed as best book ever by so many for so long. I think any Franzen book looks like a masterpiece compared to this. More like a good pop novel.

by Anonymousreply 9November 23, 2021 3:51 AM

R4 that is quite juicy information, Julian was an enigmatic but oh so interesting character. It's a shame that the Goldfinch film has made her gun shy.

by Anonymousreply 10November 23, 2021 3:51 AM

R6 So you acknowledge your simian genetics...

by Anonymousreply 11November 23, 2021 3:51 AM

I love this book. Just like "A Confederacy of Dunces", I think it would be a very difficult book to turn into a movie, since so much would hinge on the casting decisions (and for some characters would be *very* difficult to find the right actors/actresses), you have to nail the zeitgeist, the art direction has to be able to fully reflect the atmosphere of the novel, etc.

by Anonymousreply 12November 23, 2021 3:52 AM

I disliked it. Tartt is too impressed by her own characters and it leads into lazy estimation of how the reader perceives them. If an author has to keep telling you how brilliant or pretty or tortured or whatever it is someone is supposed to be, then they're not doing their job very well.

And as she gives her own narrator character short shrift (he's colorless), the other characters are reprehensible and fairly one-note, and Tartt tunes out anything to do with the campus beyond this one tightly circumscribed circle, there is nothing to root for and nothing at stake.

It's like The Green Hat minus the undertones of fascism or The Sorrows of Young Werther if nobody died.

by Anonymousreply 13November 23, 2021 3:57 AM

R12 Some of the scenes she wrote were so vivid, I won't reveal spoilers since one person is still reading it. Francis brought to life would be tremendous. I have a hard time visualizing anyone playing Richard for some reason. The twins wouldn't be too hard to cast, tons of pretty blonde actors in Hollyweird. Her description of Henry doesn't bring any one male actor to mind. I see Derek Jacobi as Julian although he's too old now for the role.

by Anonymousreply 14November 23, 2021 4:07 AM

I know the real-life Bunny. He lives in LA, married to a big Hollywood producer and is a stay-at-home dad. Kind of a twat (quel surprise).

by Anonymousreply 15November 23, 2021 4:08 AM

The Goldfinch was a Dickensian novel. The move destroyed that structure to try and make it a mystery.

It didn't work...

by Anonymousreply 16November 23, 2021 4:09 AM


It was excellent until the murder, and then the book just drags until it finally hits the last couple of chapters. The funeral scene, for instance, goes on for fucking ever. The problem with that last third is that Richard is our only perspective on what's happening, and the most interesting stuff about the murder investigation Richard doesn't witness.

I think it would make an excellent limited series on HBO or Netflix. You'd have a third-person perspective on the investigation, and that would liven up that draggy third.


If they wanted to liven up the Julian character, age up Hiddleston a bit and let him play Julian as a vigorous man in his 50s. Hiddleston is a Classics major who literally speaks fluent Latin and Greek.

by Anonymousreply 17November 23, 2021 4:10 AM

R17, Hiddleston is perfect. He's erudite enough to pull it off and has the lovely speaking voice. Julian I always thought was in his sixties but I could never tease out his age precisely. I don't think Tartt ever states exactly how old he is. The stuff at the Corcoran's house does drag on a bit. I would also love to see who they would cast as Cloke and Judy. You may be quite right it would work better as a series.

by Anonymousreply 18November 23, 2021 4:20 AM

Julian is supposed to be in his late 50s or 60s. Towards the end of the book, Richard mentions reading about the well-connected Julian being acquainted with Orwell and mentioned in Orwell's letters. Orwell died in1950, and the book is set more than thirty years after that, so Julian would have to be at least mid-50s. His age isn't really a major thing, though, except that he has to be old enough to be a distinguished classics professor and a mentor to the college-aged characters. Give Hiddleston a beard and some grey in his hair, and he'd work fine.

by Anonymousreply 19November 23, 2021 4:37 AM

The Goldfinch movie was bad, starring whatsisname.

by Anonymousreply 20November 23, 2021 4:45 AM

I was thoroughly entertained by The Secret History and have read it more than once but anyone who thinks it's anything other than high-grade middlebrow fare is kidding themselves. She's a better writer than GRRM (not difficult) but ultimately it's the same cultural level.

by Anonymousreply 21November 23, 2021 4:49 AM

My cast list if they started filming tomorrow:

Richard: Kodi Smit-McPhee

Camilla: Maya Hawke

Charles: Joe Alwyn

Francis: Asa Butterfield

Bunny: Freddie Fox

Henry: Jacob Elordi

Julian: Tom Hiddleston

by Anonymousreply 22November 23, 2021 5:00 AM

I found it entertaining even if I hated that group of pretentious annoying nerds. I cant stand the characters.

by Anonymousreply 23November 23, 2021 5:05 AM

Well shit, they're not good people. I think that's what we're supposed to figure out at the end of the novel. Even Richard is sort of a terrible person, in a quiet way.

by Anonymousreply 24November 23, 2021 5:16 AM

The Goldfinch didn't turn tartt off from optioning TSH into a movie. She did option it but a movie was never made and the rights reverted to her.

I agree with earlier post about tartt's dialogues. Young people don't speak like that. Tartt is a fan of classic Hollywood movies and she thinks all the cool kids speak like Hepburn and Grant.

Her books are greatly flawed but I still find them engrossing enough and she writes very well. There have been other threads about this book and one of them was ongoing as I was listening to the book. I remembering posting I loved how she in the most low key way revealed a character was gay.

Tip, don't listen to the audio book. Tartt reads it and it's a prime example of why you leave audio books to the pros. Her voicing of bunny nearly ended the book for me. I credit the book for being engaging enough to withstand tartt's misguided attempt at audio book reading.


R15, you're a liar , we all know bunny died in college.

by Anonymousreply 25November 23, 2021 5:33 AM

R24 By the end? I am 50 pages in and I know they are all horrid people.

by Anonymousreply 26November 23, 2021 5:35 AM

It would be great if they went ahead and set it in the early 80s. You could have a rocking New Wave soundtrack and vintage clothes. Also, the plot only works if people don't have cell phones and social media.

by Anonymousreply 27November 23, 2021 5:35 AM

I so enjoyed reading this, and I wasn't really expecting to at the time. I've been hopelessly hooked on the Tartt ever since.

by Anonymousreply 28November 23, 2021 5:36 AM

The point isn't whether they are horrid people. The Great Gatsby was full of horrid people. The Return of the Native was wall-to-wall horrid people. Find me a single non-horrid person in The Time of Indifference.

The point is whether they are interesting and believable.

The horrid people in The Secret History are neither.

by Anonymousreply 29November 23, 2021 5:39 AM

R16 An interesting and most erudite take on [italic] The Goldfinch [/italic] there. I quite agree, now that you mention it.

by Anonymousreply 30November 23, 2021 5:40 AM

Well, if you like that sort of thing...

by Anonymousreply 31November 23, 2021 5:40 AM

R31 "Horrid" was a response to R24 saying "by the end you know they are not good people"

Your erudite listing of "all novels have horrid creatures, the question is are they interesting" actually sounds like dialog from The Secret History. That's not necessarily a good thing.

by Anonymousreply 32November 23, 2021 5:43 AM

I think they're horrible people and very interesting, but your mileage may vary.

Julian is the most horrible, probably. And weirdly, the intimidating Henry is the one with the most clearly developed sense of morals, though it doesn't become clear until the end.

by Anonymousreply 33November 23, 2021 5:45 AM

R21 Fair enough, I'd place it a few rungs up, but props for admitting you enjoyed it. Everything we read doesn't need to be so very highbrow, now does it?

by Anonymousreply 34November 23, 2021 5:47 AM

R32, I did not say that all novels have horrid creatures. Just that those that do benefit by their being interesting and (within the context of the novel) believable - by which I mean both consistent and rooted in the context the author has created.

Tartt's characters are throwbacks to a fantasy of WASP culture that was long-gone by the time Miss Tartt finished her orientation week.

by Anonymousreply 35November 23, 2021 5:47 AM

They remind me of the characters in Metropolitan, which is set around the same time. The overly articulate and whimsical dialogue, worship of the preppie, etc. These days, that sort of thing is Wes Anderson's bailiwick.

I wonder if he could direct The Secret History film or series? Could he portray the darkness? My director of choice for it would have been the late, lamented Anthony Minghella.

by Anonymousreply 36November 23, 2021 5:50 AM

R36, I love Metropolitan, but it was already a visual update of a script set originally in the 1960s, IIRC. Also, it was easier to accept the characters in Metropolitan as satirical because they were also presented in some way as helpless; their anachronistic qualities were their armor.

Lifelong fan of Chris Eigemann BTW. Last Days of Disco, Kicking and Screaming - very good-looking guy as well.

by Anonymousreply 37November 23, 2021 5:54 AM

No it certainly doesn't R34 (although i suppose this is a personal call so for me, no, it doesn't). I watched Game of Thrones and enjoyed almost every second of the first 4.5 seasons, but I'm under no illusions as to Game of Thrones being highbrow. Even middlebrow is a push.

R36 I was going to bring up Whit Stillman as a possible director. Or maybe the combination of that book and that director wouldn't work? Are Tartt and Stillman too similar in sensibility?

It's been over a decade since I read The Secret History and the one scene I remember very clearly is the one where Camilla cuts her foot and there is a description of the blood swirling in the water. I don't remember the exact words at all but that description of the cut foot is the one I most recall from the book. Another character carries her somewhere afterwards iirc?

Sometimes I wonder if lower middle class (former) kids like me are more prone to enjoy the book because we totally identify with Richard's class envy. My university experience was similar in some ways.

Sorry for the random thoughts.

by Anonymousreply 38November 23, 2021 6:26 AM

Interesting ideas here. I can enjoy novels and films without any sympathy for all the "bad"or otherwise unrelatable, and completely flawed characters without any redeeming qualities. I think there's a term for that, perhaps someone shall help me out here... unsympathetic characters?

Anyhow, Works such as this can indeed succeed very well; as easily as a film or a novel with say, a false protagonist, or no antagonist can succeed. They simply are not conventional or necessarily straightforward techniques. I would this style may even be a more unconventional technique, and therefore requires a bit more skill or finesse in character description and character development.

by Anonymousreply 39November 23, 2021 6:27 AM

I loved The Goldfinch, I was sobbing like a baby at the end of the book. The movie did not do it justice. It was an epic novel, spanning years. It should have been an HBO series. I hope Tartt reconsiders.

Regarding TSH, I stopped reading it after one chapter but reread it again years later. I liked it but it didn't have the impact like TG did for me.

by Anonymousreply 40November 23, 2021 6:54 AM

R35 I don't really think the characters necessarily need to be believable to be enjoyed. Sometimes as a reader is being transported to a completely made up world, (which fiction is) and as we're eing introduced to their strangeness, our bewilderment of encountering such a character or personality type as we've yet to encounter in our reality can be both thrilling and quite mysterious.

For me, these characters create suspense, as I consider them as a fascinating psychological study of sorts. The more complicated, outlandish, and flawed the better IMHO.

Quite often upon further analysis, after plot resolution, they do seem somewhat unbelievable, but they make the ride rather enjoyable. If the creator goes slowly enough in revealing how complicated and flawed they are, it works; if the veil is too slowly revealed, we lose interest. (as R40 did first time delving in)

by Anonymousreply 41November 23, 2021 7:21 AM

^ Meant to type if the veil is too slowly LIFTED.

by Anonymousreply 42November 23, 2021 7:28 AM

R38 Glad you quite agree a bit of fluff and trash is good for the soul, and an oft welcome diversion from reality. (like G of T)

I quite agree with you as regards the class envy, but I have an interesting take on it. I suspect you were not as completely out of your element as you may have felt at the time, or perhaps not really so low as lower middle class, only because one has to be "sophisticated enough" to a certain degree to even perceive enough of these class differences in the first place; which may or may not always result in class envy. (was it truly class envy, or perhaps more accurately put, class anxiety?)

I think if you were a student who was completely lower class, or lower-middle, going to university with much more affluent people wouldn't trouble you as much, as you would simply be glad to be there, and experiencing that oppurtunity whilst remaining oblivious to the more subtle differences in class. I suspect you're probably more refined and astute than you give yourself credit for. Remember, class isn't always about how hard one's struggle was, or his lack of money.

Never apologise for random thoughts mate! They engender more random thoughts in all of us, and the more thought the better.

by Anonymousreply 43November 23, 2021 7:53 AM

Oh I am all for a bit of fluff, R43.

As for university and my experiences there I think I would say at the time, in my late teens, the process of understanding what an alien world I was actually in took a couple of years. At the end of my education and now, years later, I comprehend differences and nuances I was originally clueless about.

And no, perhaps it wasn't entirely envy, but I do remember first realizing and them coming to resent, in some ways, that some people existed in very different surroundings to my own, and had never known anything different. The Secret History describes something like it with Richard perceiving the beauty (cultural but also simple physical beauty) that is new to him but not his peers. For the first time, at university, I had friends whose parents owned beautiful houses. Who themselves wore beautiful clothing, who understood and had good taste in classical music and footwear and cars. My university was itself beautiful, very similar to the campus described in TSH. It really made a difference to me to be in surroundings like that compared to the dreary suburb where I grew up. TSH really seemed to understand that aspect of it, of how just a change of scene can affect so much of how we think and feel.

Holy fuck I really didn't describe that well.

Anyway you haven't called me a stupid cunt yet so thank you.

by Anonymousreply 44November 23, 2021 9:11 AM

Could Sofia Coppola direct this?

Wes Anderson if he weren’t so twee.


by Anonymousreply 45November 23, 2021 9:37 AM

R44 Quite agree on a change of scenery. I've become somewhat addicted to it after living in a few different countries. What a head trip!

I wouldn't call random posters here stupid without good reason, and on the contrary, you haven't made any daft remarks. I only call mean queens out here for being cunts. (or bigots, trolls, or racists) It's never been my style. When people fall out of line however, the gloves are off as they say.

by Anonymousreply 46November 23, 2021 9:58 AM

Who would play Bunny?

by Anonymousreply 47November 23, 2021 10:47 AM

Brilliant article about Bennington in the 80s, including heaps about Tartt and the various people around campus who inspired the book.

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by Anonymousreply 48November 23, 2021 2:08 PM

I thought it was pretty contrived, but I liked the detail of the poor student scraping to get by in an academic environment that couldn't give a shit about his welfare.

by Anonymousreply 49November 23, 2021 3:30 PM

DT actually transferred to Bennington from Ole Miss, where she was a student of Barry Hannah. She was also (shocker) a Kappa Kappa Gamma. She's said in interviews that the Kappas had something pukey called the "Sunshine Box," where you put little slips of paper with happy platitudes written on them. She contributed Sartre's "Hell is other people" and got chastised for it.

by Anonymousreply 50November 23, 2021 3:44 PM

Miss Tartt doesn't like being edited

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by Anonymousreply 51November 23, 2021 3:46 PM

Any relation?

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by Anonymousreply 52November 23, 2021 3:55 PM

I am halfway through it. Also almost all the way through Goldfinch.

by Anonymousreply 53November 23, 2021 4:43 PM

There was another thread recently about casting the movie.

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by Anonymousreply 54November 23, 2021 4:49 PM

R38 Interesting. Tartt herself, going to Bennington, let her friends think she was from an upper crust background in the South, even that she had a debutante ball, with servants sewing her dress. In reality she was from a working class background... her father was a plumber, I think.

The arch and anachronistic dialog of the characters... like the movie Metropolitan. I was trying to think of another NYC movie... four rich kids, upper east 80s, with their own rituals and over-erudite language, one of them the son of a super rich Wall St guy who was under legal jeopardy... the son a drunk that the other three would visit in his mansion, playing games... but the point is the kids talked unlike any kids in the 20th century. Any remember the name of that movie? It's driving me nuts and Google won't help.

by Anonymousreply 55November 23, 2021 5:01 PM

Possible SPOILERS.

Richard clearly does have class envy, the entire book is kind of about that, in a strange way. He's the narrator, after all, and it's interesting the way he describes them all. His horrid family speaks for itself, but its less clear why he is drawn to them . Other than wanting to reinvent himself. I felt that Juilian was the shadow man and subtly instilled the idea of murder in their minds - the bacchanal business would certainly be an interesting scene to film. They had an orgy for Godsakes.

by Anonymousreply 56November 23, 2021 5:04 PM

Richard has terrible class envy and impostor syndrome, which is why he hates Bunny so much. Bunny knows exactly what Richard is and never ceases to jab him about it.

by Anonymousreply 57November 23, 2021 7:50 PM

i also loved this book. but don’t remember the details!

by Anonymousreply 58November 23, 2021 7:56 PM

I’d argue you need class envy to write and to fully appreciate this book, because a lot of it is about class signifiers, which stand out most to those trying to traverse classes upwards (Richard) or the “guards” trying to prevent this, who likely are anxious about their own tenuous class position (Bunny). People comfortable with their class status aren’t as interested in these little details of, what do these types of people do, wear, eat, drink and say behind closed doors? One of the delicious aspects of the book is the small details Tartt includes that make many of us think, so THEY really act like that? How would i fit in? What would Bunny catch me out doing, and can I spot Richard doing anything wrong?

It makes sense that Tartt came to Bennington as a bit of a striver seeking to pass as the southern gentry she wasn’t, or else she may not have noticed the wonderful details that fill this book. Bret Easton Ellis is another example, not because of his social class but because his sexuality made him observant of how people passed or didn’t when they tried to fit into a certain mold.

by Anonymousreply 59November 23, 2021 7:59 PM

One of my favorite books of all time. Always related a little too much to Richard Papen, and always read him as an obviously closeted homosexual.

Judy Poovey is probably the best side character. I went to a small liberal arts school among many rich (not Bennington, incidentally I got in but my parents didn't let me go because it was too "loose") and the portrayal of the culture is dead on. The line about Bunny's essay about Metahemeralism made me cry of laughter the first time I read it. In fact the entire book is very, very funny.

by Anonymousreply 60November 23, 2021 7:59 PM

Tartt nails the feeling of being inexplicably included in a group you think you’re not quite good enough for, anxious that you’ll blow your chance and never be included again, or that one of them will see something wrong with you.

by Anonymousreply 61November 23, 2021 8:03 PM

[quote] Did you just learn to read? That book has been out for almost 30 years.

Oh for Christ's sake, take a fucking Midol, Blanche. I'm often reading books myself that were published decades and sometimes even centuries ago.

by Anonymousreply 62November 23, 2021 8:05 PM

r55, is it [italic]Kicking and Screaming[/italic]?

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by Anonymousreply 63November 23, 2021 9:13 PM

R63 Good tip, but no.

It was a movie of a group of four friends - three guys and a girl. One of the guys "the leader" was very rich, lived in an elegant townhome in the upper eastside... but something happened to his father and he (fragile hitler that he was) and he sequestered in the house as the other three came to "nurse him" dressed in white tie, drunken games, and one of the guys was clearly in love with him. And their arch, antiquated wit (think Oscar Wilde) was exactly like the dialog in The Secret History. i.e. no one speaks that arch and convoluted and pithy.

It's driving me nuts, can't remember the title... IMDB, RottenTomatoes, Google no help. i"ve almost decided I invented it.

by Anonymousreply 64November 23, 2021 10:45 PM

It's "Those People", 2015. I finally remembered there was a stupid Gilbert and Sullivan bit in it, and that helped me Google-dig to it.


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by Anonymousreply 65November 23, 2021 10:53 PM

R60 How did you read Richard as being obviously closeted? His crush on Camilla spoke for itself in my view. He fooled around a little but am not sure that qualifies him for being closeted. Confused, perhaps.

by Anonymousreply 66November 23, 2021 11:41 PM

Richard didn't seem to have any strong identity of any kind. He seemed like the type of passive person who could fall into a relationship with any partner that had a dominating personality. If Henry had wanted to fuck him, Henry could have.

by Anonymousreply 67November 24, 2021 12:13 AM

He initially hero worshiped Henry, that's one of the great strengths of the book as Richard begins to see things in a different light. His passive nature was evident and his need to play follow the leader.

by Anonymousreply 68November 24, 2021 12:23 AM

Were the twins in an incestuous relationship? I say yes but want to know what others think.

by Anonymousreply 69November 24, 2021 1:37 AM


Yes, I thought that was made explicit, R69.

by Anonymousreply 70November 24, 2021 1:43 AM

If this were to be made into a movie, TPTB would demand diversity. I can see Twitter slamming the movies about pretentious white people. Making the lead protagonist a non-white would emphasize his outsider status.

Richard: Stephan James (he played the lead in Homecoming with Julia Roberts)

Camilla: Anya Taylor-Joy (R22, Maya Hawkes is not beautiful)

Charles: Jack Lowden

Francis: Ezra Miller

Bunny: Freddy Fox sounds good

Henry: Bill Skarsgard

Julian: Colin Firth

by Anonymousreply 71November 24, 2021 2:37 AM

R66 It helps if you read the book, like I did, with the lens that Richard is like a modern Nick Carraway and Henry (and Francis early on, remember he was obsessed with him in the beginning) is his Gatsby. Richard is totally unreliable in his narration, evasive and outright lying at times, but little things slip through the cracks, like how he often speculates on the sexuality of EVERY man he encounters. And his crush on Camila is compounded in his narration by constantly remarking how masculine she looks/seems, how much she resembles her brother etc - very much like Jordan Baker in Gatsby, even down to the cool and detached persona.

by Anonymousreply 72November 24, 2021 2:37 AM

Maya Hawke is a quirky beauty. I think she's more attractive than Anya Taylor-Joy, who is looking more and more like a praying mantis with every pound she loses.

by Anonymousreply 73November 24, 2021 2:54 AM


by Anonymousreply 74November 24, 2021 5:31 AM

It’s amazing that this plumb little girl

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by Anonymousreply 75November 24, 2021 2:12 PM

Will grow into this angular elegant creature

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by Anonymousreply 76November 24, 2021 2:13 PM

as a Latin student in school when i read this is BLEW my fucking mind.

she never really topped it

by Anonymousreply 77November 24, 2021 2:37 PM

Actually, it's amazing that such a pleasant, cheerful looking person would turn into a dour Ayn Rand-looking twit wearing jackets that do not fit, but I suppose it's the same thing, really, R76.

by Anonymousreply 78November 24, 2021 2:38 PM

[quote]Nobody talks like that

why on earth would all characters in a book need to "talk like that" or any way? you sound like a cretin

by Anonymousreply 79November 24, 2021 2:39 PM

[quote]They remind me of the characters in Metropolitan, which is set around the same time.

my impression too

by Anonymousreply 80November 24, 2021 2:46 PM

Stylization in speech is fine in a novel or film - it establishes tone. But it helps if it's consistent and played for tone rather than simply as a signifier. "This one drops his 'aitches and that means he's lower class" - is lazy writing.

IMO, Tartt's characters all sound as if she'd heard them in different movies. Bunny is the worst of a bad lot, practically a "pip-pip" old-school-tie twit out of an Ealing comedy. If the narrator had somehow pointed this out it could work. But laid out at face value, it seems an affectation on the part of the author rather than the character.

by Anonymousreply 81November 24, 2021 2:48 PM

[quote]Sometimes I wonder if lower middle class (former) kids like me are more prone to enjoy the book because we totally identify with Richard's class envy.

yes, I experienced that. I went to bordering school on a scholarship after a fairly dull working class upbringing. I was wowed by how "other" the strange rich kids were

by Anonymousreply 82November 24, 2021 2:49 PM

The funny thing is, at least according to the podcast about Tartt’s time at Bennington, the group of kids she modeled the book on actually did speak in such an artificial, faux-sophisticated way. I’m curious whether they’ve stuck to it as adults…

by Anonymousreply 83November 24, 2021 3:34 PM

R72 Very insightful take! I'm going to try rereading it from that angle and see what pops out at me. Certainly he didn't seem to mind (le SPOILERS) Francis' tongue in his mouth .

by Anonymousreply 84November 24, 2021 3:42 PM

I think if a movie had been made after the boo first came out Parker Posey would have made a nice little Camilla or Judy. She's unhinged and that would suit this tale perfectly. Seeing her in the House of Yes confirmed that for me (and it contains an eerily similar theme).

by Anonymousreply 85November 24, 2021 3:56 PM

Book, even.

by Anonymousreply 86November 24, 2021 3:56 PM

Parker Posey would have made a great flipped-gender Richard, who seems to have been modeled on Tartt’s experience.

by Anonymousreply 87November 24, 2021 4:00 PM

Agree with the comparison to Metropolitan. The artificial sentence structures in which many of the characters speak is annoying. Distracts from ever feeling like this is “real” as opposed to a “story”. SPOILER: The “bewitching” behavior form the drug is pure sci-fi and eliminates the logic or plausibility of the initial murder - making the rest of the story on which it hinges seem artificial as well.

by Anonymousreply 88November 24, 2021 4:03 PM

I thought the drug ‘heist’ at the Corcoran’s house was hysterical, and the bitchy Mrs Corcoran was comedic gold [if it were ever filmed]

by Anonymousreply 89November 24, 2021 4:45 PM

The Secret History should probably be read together with The Birth of Tragedy; it would make the Dionysian bit more understandable and more convincing

by Anonymousreply 90November 24, 2021 5:05 PM

Parker Posey would have been a fantastic Judy Poovey.

by Anonymousreply 91November 24, 2021 7:00 PM

[quote]The funny thing is, at least according to the podcast about Tartt’s time at Bennington, the group of kids she modeled the book on actually did speak in such an artificial, faux-sophisticated way.

And isn't Bennington supposed to be Poseur Central anyway?

by Anonymousreply 92November 24, 2021 7:03 PM

[quote] the group of kids she modeled the book on actually did speak in such an artificial, faux-sophisticated way.

Similar affectations: Kardashian-Jenner offspring speak in vocal fry like people trying to sound sophisticated.

by Anonymousreply 93November 25, 2021 1:31 AM

It has to be asked, was Donna Tartt a tart?

by Anonymousreply 94November 25, 2021 2:10 AM

I decided to reread it today, I'm about a fourth of the way in and am enjoying it, though some of it feels a bit more trite than the first time I read it (thirty years ago!)

by Anonymousreply 95November 25, 2021 2:11 AM

No, she was a donna, R94.

by Anonymousreply 96November 25, 2021 2:13 AM

I saw Tartt on Charlie Rose ages ago. She came across as very measured, quite interesting, polite.

by Anonymousreply 97November 25, 2021 2:13 AM

She seems it from her writing

by Anonymousreply 98November 25, 2021 3:50 AM

Is she a lesbian? Inquiring minds want to know.

by Anonymousreply 99November 25, 2021 8:35 AM

Donna has a [what used to be called] ‘Masculine Mind’: logical, rational, thorough; emotive without being sentimental

by Anonymousreply 100November 25, 2021 9:11 AM

Todd Haynes would be great to direct TSH.

by Anonymousreply 101November 25, 2021 9:41 AM

Too Bad

by Anonymousreply 102November 25, 2021 1:34 PM

Random sample of gorgeous writing:

[quote] Charles shuffled his papers together, stood up again; Camilla stood beside him and this time she offered me her hand, too. Side by side, they were very much alike, in similarity less of lineament than of manner and bearing, a correspondence of gesture which bounced and echoed between them so that a blink seemed to reverberate, moments later, in a twitch of the other’s eyelid. Their eyes were the same color of gray, intelligent and calm. She, I thought, was very beautiful, in an unsettling, almost medieval way which would not be apparent to the casual observer.

by Anonymousreply 103November 26, 2021 10:15 AM

Grace and movement:

[quote] The walls had fallen away and the room was black. Henry’s face, lit starkly by the lamp, was pale against the darkness and stray points of light winked from the rim of his spectacles, glowed in the amber depths of his whiskey glass, shone blue in his eyes.

by Anonymousreply 104November 26, 2021 10:18 AM

You lot are so sophisticated. Despite knowing about the book for years, my immediate reaction to the thread title was:

Don-na Tartt do-do-do-do-ta-do

Don-na Tartt do-do-do-do-ta-do

by Anonymousreply 105November 26, 2021 11:53 AM

R105 Is this sung to the tune of Baby Shark?

by Anonymousreply 106November 26, 2021 12:00 PM


by Anonymousreply 107November 26, 2021 12:39 PM

R107 So, she vicious and blood thirsty? Or litigious?

by Anonymousreply 108November 26, 2021 12:46 PM

she seems mean

I like the stilted style

by Anonymousreply 109November 26, 2021 2:13 PM

I’m Enjoying it

by Anonymousreply 110November 27, 2021 1:51 AM

[quote] She, I thought, was very beautiful, in an unsettling, almost medieval way

This is why Maya Hawkes would be miscast as Camilla.

Anya Taylor-Joy or Elle Fanning

by Anonymousreply 111November 27, 2021 2:34 AM

[quote] She, I thought, was very beautiful, in an unsettling, almost medieval way which would not be apparent to the casual observer.

But the end of that sentence is why Anya Taylor-Joy doesn’t make sense. You need someone more like Dakota Fanning than Elle.

by Anonymousreply 112November 27, 2021 2:41 AM

Some years ago, Gwennie Paltrow bought the rights. They started developing it. Gwennie wanted to play Camilla.

Then Bruce died & the project went on permanent hiatus.

by Anonymousreply 113November 27, 2021 2:50 AM


by Anonymousreply 114November 27, 2021 3:48 AM

Kenny never wanted to use it

by Anonymousreply 115November 27, 2021 4:08 AM

A medieval beauty? Me, per chance?

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by Anonymousreply 116November 27, 2021 4:54 AM


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by Anonymousreply 117November 27, 2021 4:56 AM

Don't feel bad, R105. I was singing the exact same thing in my head.

by Anonymousreply 118November 27, 2021 5:03 AM

[quote] Did you just learn to read?

[quote]That book has been out for almost 30 years.

Hmm, a somewhat flawed inference, I must say.

Because, for example, OP could be a Gen-Z baby - born after 2000! - and he’s just discovering the delights of fin-de-siècle literature.

As long as one can’t rule out such possibilities *completely*, it would be wiser not to jump to such possibly fallacious conclusions

by Anonymousreply 119November 27, 2021 6:08 AM

Soylent Green - another Sci-Fi movie with an iconic scene of Charlton Heston's overacting.

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by Anonymousreply 120November 27, 2021 11:54 AM

Oops! Wrong thread, sorry.

by Anonymousreply 121November 27, 2021 11:55 AM

No. It was a great book & i doubt would make a good movie: even the lsd murder was wonky in the book Her writing pulled it through. Then it’s really just people that end up empty. How dull. The person that cast the movie above needs to get a life.

by Anonymousreply 122November 27, 2021 12:11 PM

[quote] You need someone more like Dakota Fanning than Elle.

Nope. The audience has to be convinced why Richard finds Camila so compelling and alluring. Dakota is plain and has bad posture. Elle is regal and beautiful. I don't know what a medieval beauty means but it doesn't have to be taken literally when you're making a movie.

by Anonymousreply 123November 27, 2021 12:14 PM

Dakota is an attractive blonde.

by Anonymousreply 124November 27, 2021 4:15 PM

Was the Soylent Green a crucial plot point in the novel?

by Anonymousreply 125November 27, 2021 5:39 PM

Not at all

by Anonymousreply 126November 27, 2021 5:43 PM

Camilla has to have a striking, patrician beauty: she needs to be not just pretty but also intelligent and slightly intimidating. I agree Elle Fanning would be a good choice.

by Anonymousreply 127November 27, 2021 6:20 PM

Here is what I think she means by medieval beauty. Young Tilda would have been perfect. Elle is too cheerleader-like.

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by Anonymousreply 128November 27, 2021 6:28 PM

It's not about translating directly what the author said. It's about choosing someone who fits the idea of what the audience thinks a smart, self-possessed beauty would look like. Tilda Swinton looks like an alien and, young or old, would not be anyone's idea of a beauty.

by Anonymousreply 129November 27, 2021 6:34 PM

R128, one of my favorite paintings in the National Gallery.

by Anonymousreply 130November 27, 2021 6:52 PM

Lil Reinhart definitely could pull it off, though it’s basically her go to on screen persona.

by Anonymousreply 131November 27, 2021 6:54 PM

here is medieval beauty

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by Anonymousreply 132November 27, 2021 6:56 PM

Me too, R130, as well as Miss Ginevra, another medieval beauty:

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by Anonymousreply 133November 27, 2021 7:19 PM

if camilla looks like that then Richard is weirder than we thought

by Anonymousreply 134November 27, 2021 8:46 PM

[quote]The person that cast the movie above needs to get a life.

I mean, we're literally discussing a movie of the book this thread is about.

(and no, that wasn't me casting the movie - the sheer cuntery of your comment just stood out to me)

by Anonymousreply 135November 27, 2021 8:47 PM

[quote] Camilla has to have a striking, patrician beauty: she needs to be not just pretty but also intelligent and slightly intimidating

Didn't Richard describe the twins as blonde and tall? The height makes her more intimidating. Elle Fanning and Anya Taylor-Joy are tall women, around 5'8". Richard also describes Camilla as having long blonde hair that falls to the side and I immediately thought of Veronica Lake who starred in a lot of film noirs. IMO, TSH reads like a film noir.

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by Anonymousreply 136November 27, 2021 11:18 PM

I'd watch The Secret History if Tartt herself were involved in the casting.

Does anyone know her? She's reclusive and enigmatic and I love it.

by Anonymousreply 137November 27, 2021 11:40 PM

The only part of The Goldfinch that worked for me was the part that MOST thought was the weakest.

Las Vegas.

It was suspenseful and intriguing. It was dark and it felt REAL to me.

The rest of the book was such a disappointment. Such a long book that I read to the end- and NOTHING happened. Nothing- It was fucked.

by Anonymousreply 138November 27, 2021 11:43 PM

Todd Haynes gets too caught up in production design and costuming at the expense of creating compelling drama. MILDRED PEIRCE was so sluggish. CAROL was underwhelming. He would be a disaster doing TSH.

Has anyone here read Tana French's book THE LIKENESS? The main character is investigating a murder and certain aspects of the novel resemble TSH.

by Anonymousreply 139November 28, 2021 12:17 AM

Love Tana French (although I hated her most recent book). She has Tartt’s ability to use descriptions of the landscape to impart a spooky, foreboding flavor, but their writing is worlds apart. One of the premium cable channels made the first two French novels into a series.

by Anonymousreply 140November 28, 2021 3:31 AM

Is there a role for Froy in the Secret History movie?

by Anonymousreply 141November 28, 2021 5:24 AM

Boy George

by Anonymousreply 142November 28, 2021 5:34 AM

I really enjoyed this book. I recently listen to it on audio. This however is the only book that she’s written that I like. I try to rather book and couldn’t get past the third chapter.

by Anonymousreply 143November 28, 2021 5:36 AM

Froy could be Francis

by Anonymousreply 144November 28, 2021 10:27 AM

Fincher could direct, but he’s not good with emotion. He’d get the spooky stuff right, though.

Soderbergh is Southern. I feel like this needs a Southern director.

by Anonymousreply 145November 28, 2021 12:25 PM

David Gordon Green? Billy Bob Thornton? Jeff Nichols? Richard Linklater? Barry Jenkins? Craig Brewer?

by Anonymousreply 146November 28, 2021 4:46 PM

I like the idea of rereading it every year around Christmas

by Anonymousreply 147November 28, 2021 5:54 PM

The person upthread who said Sofia Coppola is right. It's gotta be her. She's does atmosphere like no one else.

by Anonymousreply 148November 29, 2021 5:10 AM

Is it about academics? They are so petty and untalented. And uninteresting.

by Anonymousreply 149November 29, 2021 6:00 AM

Ang Lee. He does sensitive dramas well..

by Anonymousreply 150November 29, 2021 11:55 AM

After Sofia Coppola delivered the comatose version of The Beguiled, she can sit the fuck down.

by Anonymousreply 151November 29, 2021 12:09 PM

Yes, another vote for Ang Lee

by Anonymousreply 152November 29, 2021 1:39 PM

Ang Coppola

by Anonymousreply 153November 29, 2021 5:40 PM

I admit The Beguiled was not great, R151.

by Anonymousreply 154November 30, 2021 2:17 AM

That sucked hard

by Anonymousreply 155November 30, 2021 3:53 AM

Pre-Hilaria Alec Baldwin as Mr Corcoran.

Meryl circa Devil Wears Prada as Mrs Corcoran

by Anonymousreply 156November 30, 2021 8:29 AM

Pre-burnt out James Franco as insecure overachieving Richard

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by Anonymousreply 157November 30, 2021 10:48 AM

Posh swishy Francis = Youthful Not-yet-alkie Jonathan Rhys Meyer

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by Anonymousreply 158November 30, 2021 10:56 AM
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