Review: The Secret History

I don’t know where to begin or how to write a proper review for this book. I believe The Secret History is considered a contemporary classic because it has many layers that can be peeled off — just to reveal more layers underneath. An in-depth analysis can result from a literary and philosophical point of view. If you’re looking forward to such an analysis, I am sorry to disappoint you.

Here goes my attempt at a review, anyway.

In simple terms, the story is about a murder. But it goes beyond that, the main themes being morality, guilt, social class, illusion, and the way beauty and horror correlate. Is an action truly wrong if the motives were for the right reasons? What can drive the seemingly cold-hearted characters to the verge of madness?

The characters were morally grey and privileged. I couldn’t empathize with them, as they were aware of their actions and possible consequences, but proceeded regardless. They went down a rabbit hole that soon became a bad omen. But the purpose of this book is not to provide us with likable characters we can be fond of, quite the opposite. It simply reveals their ugly truths hidden behind seemingly perfect facades. It’s the reason why the main character, Richard Papen, is an unreliable narrator — although it becomes more visible towards the end.

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