The Secret History

FAQ About The Secret History

Can you explore the cultural and historical context of the 1980s in which The Secret History
9 months ago | gizem

Can you explore the cultural and historical context of the 1980s in which "The Secret History" is set, and how it impacts the story?

"The Secret History" is set in the 1980s, and the cultural and historical context of this era plays a significant role in shaping the story. Here's an exploration of how the 1980s context impacts the narrative:

  • Academic Climate: The 1980s marked a period of heightened interest in liberal arts education, which is reflected in the novel's academic setting. The characters' pursuit of classical studies, their intense intellectual engagement, and their admiration for their classics professor, Julian Morrow, align with the academic culture of the time.
  • Counterculture Movements: While the 1980s saw a conservative political shift in the United States, there was still a lingering influence of counterculture movements from the 1960s and 1970s. The characters' rebellious and nonconformist attitudes, as well as their pursuit of an unconventional and idealized lifestyle, can be seen as a reflection of this countercultural legacy.
  • Privilege and Excess: The 1980s were characterized by a culture of excess and conspicuous consumption, particularly among the wealthy. This is mirrored in the novel through the characters' privileged backgrounds, their indulgent lifestyles, and their willingness to go to great lengths to maintain their privileged status.
  • Literary Influences: Donna Tartt draws on literary influences from the 1980s, including the works of authors like Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, who explored themes of privilege, decadence, and moral decay in their novels. These literary influences are evident in the novel's exploration of similar themes.
  • Artistic and Aesthetic Trends: The characters' obsession with aesthetics, beauty, and the pursuit of an idealized life is in line with the artistic and aesthetic trends of the 1980s. This was a decade marked by an emphasis on style, fashion, and the pursuit of personal and artistic perfection.
  • Duality of the Decade: The 1980s were marked by a duality between surface glamour and underlying darkness. This duality is reflected in the characters' pursuit of an idealized, beautiful life contrasted with the moral decay and hidden secrets that lie beneath the surface.
  • Technology and Communication: The novel is set in a pre-digital era, where communication was primarily face-to-face or through written letters. This lack of instant communication technology adds to the sense of isolation and secrecy in the story, as the characters are cut off from the outside world.
  • Cultural References: The characters make references to cultural icons and works of literature from the 1980s, such as mentions of films, music, and books. These references anchor the story in its cultural context and add depth to the characters' experiences.