The Secret History by Donna Tartt


On the first page we learn that Bunny is dead. We know who killed him but we don't yet know why. At first the book seems to be an inverted murder mystery. But is it all there is?

There's a group of five rich students of ancient Greek and there's Richard, an ordinary kid trying to escape from the life of his father's gas station in a small town in California. Richard's interest in literature and beauty strongly contrasts the life he left behind. At first he isn't admitted into Julian’s little circle of Greek students. Later the professor changes his mind and admits Richard into his closed isolated group. His need to belong to this privileged group borders on obsession. Richard invents his past life, his family and schooling to sound much more glamorous as it really was.

Richard admits he doesn't know whether he likes his fellow students, the same people he tries to impress. Someone in the novel says that none of them is smart enough to latter in life make a career in teaching or the academia. It seems studying Greek is a form of killing time for them. They are detached from reality.  They have no clue about the everyday life, the real world, the outside. They are isolated from other students.

Wrapped up in their Greek studies they decide to hold a bacchanal from which Richard and Bunny are excluded. What happens there is real. From that point on, beauty turns into darkness. They experience blackmail, harassment, and their own secrets being thrown at them. They contemplate ending it all often enough, they talk about it, plan it but it all seems like a game, like something imagined, not real. Until it finally happens.

The why of the murder is pretty clear up to the middle of the novel. After the murder they wait for the body to be found, they search for it and after it is found they attend Bunny's funeral. After that we read about repeated scenes of drinking, drugs and medications abuse, hangovers, panic attacks, paranoia, psychological strains, leading to the disintegration of the group.

I rather enjoyed this book. After I finished it I kept thinking about what isolation can do to people who live in their own (privileged) world without caring about what goes on around them. Would it be any different if the bacchanal and the events immediately following it didn't happen? I don't think so.

*

Že na prvi strani knjige izvemo, da je Bunny mrtev. Vemo tudi kdo ga je ubil, ne vemo pa še zakaj. Na prvi pogled gre za obrnjeno kriminalko, je pa ta knjiga še marsikaj drugega.

Opravka imamo s petimi bogatimi študent stare grščine in z Richardom, čisto navadnim mulcem, ki skuša zbežati pred življenjem na očetovi bencinski črpalki v malem mestu nekje v Kaliforniji. Richardovo zanimanje za literaturo in lepoto ne bi moglo biti drugačno od življenja njegovih staršev in okolja, v katerem je odrasel. Sprva ga profesor ne sprejme, potem pa si premisli in zanj najde mesto v svoji mali skupini študentov. Richardova potreba po pripadnosti meji na obsedenost. S časom si izmisli bleščeče življenje, ki naj bi ga živel v Kaliforniji, ki je zelo drugačno od resničnega.

Richard prizna, da ni prepričan ali so mu kolegi, ljudje, ki si jih želi navdušiti, sploh všeč. Ne glede na njihov dosedanji študij, nihče od njih ni dovolj pameten, da bi kasneje v življenju zgradil kariero v akademskih krogih. Videti je, da je zanje študij grščine samo zabijanje časa. Odmaknjeni so od resničnosti, ne vedo kaj se dogaja v vsakdanjem življenju, zunaj njihovih interesnih meja. Zaradi načina študija v majhni skupni in zahteve profesorja, da skoraj vse predmete poslušajo pri njem, postanejo izolirani od drugih študentov.

Prežeti s študijem stare grščine in vsega kar sodi zraven, se odločijo, da poskusijo prirediti bakanalije, vendar brez Richarda in Bunnyja. Kar se zgodi tam, je zelo resnično. Od te točke dalje se lepota sprevrže v temačnost. Njihov vsakdan izpolnijo nadlegovanje, grožnje, izsiljevanje z lastnimi skrivnostmi. Pogosto razmišljajo o tem kako bi vse skupaj končali, pogovarjajo se o tem, načrtujejo, vendar je kljub temu to zanje kot igra, kot nekaj, kar ne obstaja, nekaj namišljenega. Dokler se resnično ne zgodi.

Do sredine romana nam je jasno kakšen je motiv za umor. Po umoru čakajo, da bo kdo našel truplo, sodelujejo pri iskanju in potem, ko ga najdejo, se udeležijo Bunnyjevega pogreba. Potem beremo o ponavljajočih se prizorih popivanja, zlorabe drog in zdravil, mačkastih jutrih, napadih panike, paranoje, psiholoških napetostih, kar na koncu vodi k razpadu skupine.

Knjiga mi je bila všeč. Potem, ko sem jo prebrala, nisem nehala razmišljati o moči, ki jo ima izolacija nad človekom, ki živi v svojem (privilegiranem) svetu in ga ne briga prav dosti kaj se dogaja okoli njega. Bi bilo drugače, če se bakanalije in dogodki, ki so jim neposredno sledili, ne bi zgodile? Mislim, da ne.


Komentarji

Priljubljene objave iz tega spletnega dnevnika

Imaginarium

Gotske refleksije

Unciala, okvirji in omejitve