Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

The Secret History

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So.  Finished reading The Secret History today.  Rather enjoyed it – I shall read Donna Tartt’s second book at some point in my life.  The structure surprised me, too.

Reading it, and thinking upon it, I thought of story as fluctuation.  (This sounds smarter than it actually is, because no one, obviously, wants to read a story where nothing happens.)  But one thinks of Shakespeare’s comedies, where characters have turbulences in their loves and whatnot, and then one thinks about why we feel satisfied with the ending of these plays, and I think it has something to do with a certain sense of stasis being reached.  At the end of the The Secret History, in the epilogue, there was a “what happened to all the characters” moment, where all the minor (and some major) characters’ future lives were described.  And, even though statistics tell us otherwise, marriage is the great stasis, is it not?  Eternal vows and all that.  Hence why virtually all romantic comedies must end in a marriage of some sort.

I suppose that the easiest way to leave a story open-ended is to hint (or go even further) that more change is to come.  Don’t do that, and you either achieve a stasis through a relative lack of inertia, or stasis through a defining act (such as marriage).

For some reason I thought the structure of The Secret History was a bit like The Brothers Karamazov, but it’s more just a feeling, rather than anything specific.  (Indeed, I’m fairly convinced that the two structures are nothing like each other at all.  It’s just to do with the reverse-mystery-type-thing that Karamazov does.)

That there were only seven (or possibly eight) chapters in the 658 book (definitely less than ten, definitely) I found a tad ridiculous, though.  Surely chapters that big should be referred to as parts?


Written by epistemysics

December 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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