The Secret History

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I’m reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt and enjoying it immensely, though the second half (which I am halfway through) feels too slowly paced, perhaps because I’ve now reached the point at which the book started. It feels like the second half of season two of Twin Peaks, or a second dinner: still great, but not necessary. We’ll see.

This is one of my favourite passages so far:

“Death is the mother of beauty,” said Henry.


“And what is beauty?”


There is something infinitely romantic about that era, that world, with its antiquated sense of elegance.


He was looking over the hills, at all that grand cinematic expanse of men and wilderness and snow that lay beneath us; and though his voice was anxious there was a strange dreamy look on his face. The business had upset him, that I knew, but I also knew that there was something about the operatic sweep of the search which could not fail to appeal to him and that he was pleased, however obscurely, with the aesthetics of the thing.


Henry saw it, too. “Like something from Tolstoy, isn’t it?” He remarked.

Julian looked over his shoulder, and I was startled to see that there was real delight on his face.

Yes,” he said. “Isn’t it, though?”