"IF ON A WINTER'S NIGHT A REVELLER": THE CLASSICAL INTERTEXT IN DONNA TARTT'S THE SECRET HISTORY (Part 1)

Francois Pauw

Abstract


1. INTRODUCTION
"Did I really want to spend my college career and subsequently my life looking at pictures
of broken kouroi and poring over Greek particles?" (The Secret History, p.80).
The dilemma cif Richard Papen, the narrator of American author Donna Tartt's 660-page
debut novel The Secret History, is hardly typical of a modem best-selling thriller - but then
Tartt's novel, although a best-seller, is not your average thriller. Like Eco's The Name of
the Rose, it not only provides for suspense but also for class, having, as it does, a cast of
students of the Classics and thus a classical field of reference. As my title, pace Calvino,
suggests, Tartt's novel is fertilized with the cross-pollination of intertext. While at times
being somewhat highbrow, it is nevertheless accessible to the educated non-classicist.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/39-3-4-517

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