24 May 2009 @ 01:05 am
The Secret History  
So I just finished The Secret History, by Donna Tartt (yes, I'm ridiculously late to the party, stop laughing), and my mind is satisfactorily blown. Rather than attempt to impart my impressions through words, at which I would no doubt fail miserably, I instead choose to use pictures, quotations and music.

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Spoilers for the book beneath the cut.




r i c h a r d.

"'You don't feel a great deal of emotion for other people, do you?'

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"Does such a thing as 'the fatal flaw,' that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn't. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.
A moi. L'histoire d'une de mes folies."





h e n r y.

'Nothing,' he said. 'Except that my life, for the most part, has been very stale and colorless. Dead, I mean. The world has always been an empty place to me. I was incapable of enjoying even the simplest things. I felt dead in everything I did.' He brushed the dirt from his hands. 'But then it changed,' he said. 'The night I killed that man.'

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"I had never thought Henry handsome - indeed, I'd always suspected that only the formality of his bearing saved him from mediocrity, as far as looks went - but now, less rigid and locked up in his movements, he had a sure, tigerish grace the swiftness and ease of which surprised me."





f r a n c i s.

Only the day before Francis, in a swish of black cashmere and cigarette smoke, had brushed past me in a corridor. For a moment, as his arm touched mine, he was a creature of flesh and blood, but the next, he was a hallucination again, a figment of the imagination stalking down the hallway as heedless of me as ghosts, in their shadowy rounds, are said to be heedless of the living.

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"The third boy was the most exotic of the set. Angular and elegant, he was precariously thin, with nervous hands and a shrewd albino face and a short, fiery mop of the reddest hair I had ever seen. I thought (erroneously) that he dressed like Alfred Douglas, or the Comte de Montesquieu: beautiful starchy shirts with French cuffs; magnificent neckties; a pale black greatcoat that billowed behind him as he walked and made him look like a cross between a student prince and Jack the Ripper."






t h e t w i n s.

And then there were a pair, boy and girl. I saw them together a great deal, and at first I thought they were boyfriend and girlfriend, until one day I saw them up close and realized they had to be siblings. Later I learned they were twins. They looked very much alike, with heavy dark-blonde hair and epicene faces as clear, as cheerful and grave, as a couple of Flemish angels. And perhaps most unusual in the context of Hampden - where pseudo-intellects and teenage decadents abounded, and where black clothing was de riguer - they liked to wear pale clothes, particularly white. In this swarm of cigarettes and dark sophistication they appeared here and there like figures from an allegory, or long-dead celebrants from some forgotten garden party.


c a m i l l a.

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"I looked at Camilla, her face bright in the sun, and thought of that line from the Iliad I love so much, about Pallas Athene and the terrible eyes shining."





c h a r l e s.

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"There was a grand piano, too, and Charles was playing, a glass of whiskey on the seat beside him. He was a little drunk; the Chopin was slurred and fluid, the notes melting sleeily into one another. A breeze stirred the heavy, moth-eaten velvet curtains, ruffling his hair."





b u n n y.

'...a sloppy blond boy, rosy-cheeked and gum-chewing, with a relentlessly cheery demeanor and his fists thrust deep in the pockets of his knee-sprung trousers.'

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"He sailed through the world guided only by the dim lights of impulse and habit, confident that his course would throw up no obstacles so large that they could not be plowed over with sheer force of momentum."





j u l i a n.

George Orwell - a keen observer of what lay behind the glitter of constructed facades, social and otherwise - had met Julian on several occasions, and had not liked him. To a friend he wrote: 'Upon meeting Julian Morrow, one has the impression that he is a man of extraordinary sympathy and warmth. But what you call his "Asiatic serenity" is, I think, a mask for great coldness.'

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"Nearly everyone had heard of him, and I was given all sorts of contradictory but fascinating information: that he was a brilliant man; that he was a fraud; that he had no college degree; that he had been a great intellectual in the forties, and a friend to Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot; that his family money had come from a partnership in a white-shoe banking firm, or, conversely, from the purchase of fore-closed property during the Depression; that he had dodged the draft in some war (though chronologically this was difficult to compute); that he had ties with the Vatican; a deposed royal family in the Middle East; Franco's Spain."



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m u s i c.

As Serious As Your Life - Four tet

(instrumental.)


Hate To Say I Told You So - The Hives

Now it's all out and you knew cause I wanted to.


Auf Acshe - Franz Ferdinand

So look what you've done, boy.


Ashes To Ashes - Tarbox Ramblers

Dust to dust.


Make No Silence - Khoiba

This fear of someone else could make you fine.


I Know What You Are But What Am I? - Mogwai

(instrumental.)


Come Undone - Duran Duran

Lost, in a snow filled sky, we'll make it alright.


Hallelujah (cover) - Imogen Heap

Love is not some victory march.


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