A List of Books Mentioned in The Secret History by Donna Tartt

In my first article on The Secret History by Donna Tartt, I mentioned how the book not only cultivates a love of learning, but is also full of intertextuality; in other words, mentions of other books and authors. 
Some of my favourite books are in fact ‘books about books’ – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Goldfinch, The Silver Linings Playbookand I thought it could be interesting to explore the books mentioned in a bit more detail. 

When I could no longer concentrate on Greek and the alphabet began to transmute itself into incoherent triangles and pitchforks, I read The Great Gatsby. It is one of my favourite books and I had taken it out of the library in hopes that it would cheer me up; of course, it only made me feel worse, since in my own humorless state I failed to see anything except what I construed as certain tragic similarities between Gatsby and myself.

– Richard on insomnia and The Great Gatsby

Books Mentioned in The Secret History

Poetics by Aristotle
Agamemnon by Aeschylus
Inferno by Dante
The Iliad by Homer
The Bacchae by Euripedes
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot

Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (alongside other mentions of Sherlock Holmes)
Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Greeks and the Irrational by E.R. Dodds

The Republic by Plato
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Superman comic
The Upanishads
“With Rue My Heart is Laden” by A.E. Housman
“Lycidas” by John Milton
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae
The New Testament
Anthony Janson’s History of Art
“Why so pale and wan fond lover?” by Sir John Suckling
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur (now attributed to Thomas Middleton)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Terence – Andria (“Hinc illae lacrimae, hence those tears)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

It was I killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them.

– A random quotation from Crime and Punishment, without citation, in The Secret History

Other Authors Mentioned

John Donne
John Ford
Marcel Proust
Christopher Marlowe
George Orwell
P.G. Wodehouse 
Philip K. Dick
Raymond Chandler
Charles Dickens
Leo Tolstoy

He was pleased, however obscurely, with the aesthetics of the thing…”Like something from Tolstoy, isn’t it?” he remarked.

– Henry making a strange, perhaps not entirely accurate, comparison to Tolstoy

Have you read and enjoyed The Secret History by Donna Tartt? Alternatively, what other ‘books about books’ are favourites of yours?

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It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.

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