The Secret History Quotes

This article is related to The Secret History book, which is written by Donna Tartt. Here we have collected all the best quotes from the book. This is our next article which is related to history quotes. Check out below the secret history quotes.

Best The Secret History Quotes

“And what is beauty?” “Terror.”

the secret history quotes

“Death is the mother of beauty,” said Henry. “And what is beauty?” “Terror.”

“We think we have many desires, but in fact we have only one. What is it?” “To live,” said Camilla. “To live forever,”

A light that made me think of long hours in dusty libraries, and old books, and silence.

A short, fiery mop of the reddest hair I had ever seen.

A truck shot past in a whine of spray.

After all, the appeal to stop being yourself, even for a little while, is very great.

All my life, people have taken my shyness for sullenness, snobbery, bad temper of one sort or another.

All of a sudden, images from every crime movie I’d ever seen began to pop into my mind—the windowless room, the harsh lights and narrow hallways, images which did not seem so much theatrical or foreign as imbued with the indelible quality of memory, of experience lived.

All right,” said Julian, looking around the table. “I hope we’re all ready to leave the phenomenal world, and enter into the sublime?

All those layers of silence upon silence.

And always, always, that same toast. Live forever.

the secret history quotes

And as we leave Donne and Walton on the shores of Metahemeralism, we wave a fond farewell to those famous chums of yore.

And besides, is death really so terrible a thing? It seems terrible to you, because you are young, but who is to say he is not better off now than you are? Or – if death is a journey to another place – that you will not see him again?

And it may be a superhuman effort to lose oneself so completely, but that’s nothing compared to the effort of getting oneself back again.

And someplace, if there is a place where lists are kept, and credit given, I am sure there is a gold star by his name.

And standing outside the Lyceum, I was struck with a black, incredulous horror, which in fact was not at all unlike the horror I had felt at twelve, sitting on a bar stool in our sunny little kitchen in Plano. Who is in control here? I thought, dismayed. Who is flying this plane?

And the nights, bigger than imagining: black and gusty and enormous, disordered and wild with stars.

Any action, in the fullness of time, sinks to nothingness.

the secret history quotes

Anything is grand if it’s done on a large enough scale.

“Are you always up this early?’ I asked him.
‘Almost always,’ he said without looking up. ‘It’s beautiful here, but morning light can make the most vulgar things tolerable.”

“Are you happy here?”” I said at last.
He considered this for a moment. “”Not particularly,”” he said. “”But you’re not very happy where you are, either.”

As is true of most incipient bad things in life, i had not really prepared myself for this possibility.

Asparagus is in season.

At first I thought they were playing to an

Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.

Beauty is terror.

beauty is terror the secret history

Beauty is terror. We want to be devoured by it, to hide ourselves in that fire which refines us.

Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.

beauty is terror the secret history

Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it… We want to be devoured by it, to hide ourselves in that fire which refines us.

Beauty—unless she is wed to something more meaningful—is always superficial.

Besides I think it’s good to change the place where one sleeps from time to time. I believe it gives one more interesting dreams.

Bunny put away his copy of The Bride of Fu Manchu and started carrying around a volume of Homer instead.

But Beauty—unless she is wed to something more meaningful—is always superficial.

“But how,” said Charles, who was close to tears, “how can you possibly justify cold-blooded murder?’
Henry lit a cigarette. “I prefer to think of it,” he had said, “as redistribution of matter.”

But I am getting sentimental. Sometimes, when I think about these things, I do.

But it was excruciating to emerge from my eerie submarine existence into this harsh stampede of noise and light.

But of course I didn’t see this crucial moment for what it actually was; I suppose we never do. Instead, I only yawned, and shook myself from the momentary daze that had come upon me, and went on my way down the stairs.

But one mustn’t underestimate the primal appeal—to lose one’s self, lose it utterly. And in losing it be born to the principle of continuous life, outside the prison of mortality and time.

But these are fundamentally sex rituals, aren’t they?

But though I can digress with the best of them, I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.

But, if I dare say it, it wasn’t until I had helped kill a man that I realized how elusive and complex an act a murder can actually be, and not necessarily attributable to one dramatic motive.

Colors so bright, they nearly broke my heart.

Death is the mother of beauty.

the secret history donna tartt quotes

Death is the mother of Beauty. And what is Beauty? Terror.

the secret history quotes

Does such a thing as “the fatal flaw,” that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature?

Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.

Even more terrible, as we grow older, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us.

For a few delirious moments I wondered if I was dead.

For if the modern mind is whimsical and discursive, the classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless.

For if the modern mind is whimsical and discursive, the classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless. It is not a quality of intelligence that one encounters frequently these days. But though I can digress with the best of them, I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.

For the miserable find comfort in the philosophy that not on them alone has evil fallen.

Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.

From the sound of it, had I stayed in California I might have ended up in a cult or at the very least practicing some weird dietary restriction.

Garden hoes, there was a small but conspicuous headline.

Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.

the secret history quotes

Go see him again why don’t you, said Bunny, take him some flowers and tell him you love Plato and he’ll be eating out of your hand.

Had I stayed in California I might have ended up in a cult or at the very least practicing some weird dietary restriction.

Had something to say? At any rate. We left our rooms pretty much.

He was a little drunk; the Chopin was slurred and fluid, the notes melting sleepily into one another.

He was about as erotic as an old football coach.

Henry’s a perfectionist, I mean, really-really kind of inhuman — very brilliant, very erratic and enigmatic. He’s a stiff, cold person, Machiavellian, ascetic and he’s made himself what he is by sheer strength of will.

He’s always up in the clouds with Plato or something.

His aspiration is to be this Platonic creature of pure rationality and that’s why he’s attracted to the Classics, and particularly to the Greeks — all those high, cold ideas of beauty and perfection. I think it’s what in the end that gets him into trouble.

His subconscious mind knocked loose from its perch and flapping in the hollow corridors of his skull as erratically as a bat.

Honestly can’t remember much else about those years.

the secret history quotes

How quickly he fell; how soon it was over.

Hubris on Henry’s, too much Greek prose composition—whatever.

I am not unused to being confronted with my ow lies, but those of others never fail to throw me for a loop.

I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.

I am sorry, as well, to present such a sketchy and disappointing exegesis of what is in fact the central part of my story.

I believe having a great diversity of teachers is harmful and confusing for a young mind, in the same way I believe that it is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially

I believe that it is better to know one book intimately that a hundred superficially.

I don’t know where Henry was. Probably looking at the moon and reciting some poem from the T’ang Dynasty.

I don’t want you to help me.’ She raised her head and looked at me: her gaze hit me hard and sweet as a shot of morphine.

I forgave him, a hundred times over, and never on the basis of anything more than this: a look, a gesture, a certain tilt of his head.

I hadn’t slept with anybody in Vermont except a little red-haired girl I met at a party on the first weekend.

I have only to glance over my shoulder for all those years to drop away and I see it behind me again, the ravine, rising all green and black through the saplings, a picture that will never leave me.

I hope I die in the night.

I mean, this man was not /Voltaire/ we killed.

I often thought how peculiar my life must look to someone reading those letters, far away.

I see so little of you these days, Richard,” he said. “I feel that you’re becoming just a shadow in my life.

I slept all day, face down in the pillow, a comfortable dead-man’s float only remotely disturbed by a chill undertow of reality—talk, footsteps, slamming doors—which threaded fitfully through the dark, blood-warm waters of dream.

I sometimes get the feeling that he was less pleased by kindness itself than by the elegance of the gesture.

I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.

I suppose the shock of recognition is one of the nastiest shocks of all.

the secret history quotes

I suppose there is a certain crucial interval in everyone’s life when character is fixed forever.

I suppose there is a certain crucial interval in everyone’s life when character is fixed forever; for me, it was that first fall term I spent at Hampden.

I was as depressed as I have ever been in my life.

the secret history quotes

I was confused by this sudden glare of attention; it was as if the characters in a favorite painting, absorbed in their own concerns, had looked up out of the canvas and spoken to me.

I was struck by something rather obvious – namely, that any religious ritual is arbitrary unless one is able to see past it to a deeper meaning.

If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.

In America, the rich man tries to pretend that the poor man is his equal in every respect but money, which is simply not true.

In fact, I can’t think of much I’d like better than for him to step into the room right now, glasses fogged and smelling of damp wool, shaking the rain from his hair like an old dog and saying: ‘Dickie, my boy, what you got for a thirsty old man to drink tonight?

In my own humorless state I failed to see anything except what I construed as certain tragic similarities between Gatsby and myself.

In short: I felt my existence was tainted, in some subtle but essential way.

It does not do to be frightened of things about which you know nothing,” he said. “You are like children. Afraid of the dark.

It does not do to be frightened of things about which you know nothing.

It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.

the secret history quotes

It may be a superhuman effort to lose oneself so completely, but that’s nothing compared to the effort of getting oneself back again

It was a clear night, with crickets and a million stars.

It was a clear, black morning, encrusted with stars.

It was if the charming theatrical curtain had dropped away and I saw him for the first time as he really was: not the benign old sage, the indulgent and protective good-parent of my dreams, but ambiguous, a moral neutral, whose beguiling trappings concealed a being watchful, capricious, and heartless.

It was like waking from a nightmare to a worse nightmare.

It’s funny, but thinking back on it now, I realize that this particular point in time, as I stood there blinking in the deserted hall, was the one point at which I might have chosen to do something very much different from what I actually did.

It’s a very Greek idea, and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.

It’s beautiful here, but morning light can make the most vulgar things tolerable.

the secret history quotes

JUST FOR THE record, I do not consider myself an evil person (though how like a killer that makes me sound!).

loose tendons; dance world’s loss; performance art’s gain

Love doesn’t conquer everything. And whoever thinks it does is a fool.

the secret history quotes

Mais, vrai, J’ai trop pleure! Les aubes sont navrantes. What a sad and beautiful line that is. I’d always hoped that someday I’d be able to use it.

Matters progressed.

My heart – which, thrilled at my daring, had held its breath for a moment or two – began suddenly to beat quite wildly

My own fatal tendency to try to make interesting people good.

Nihil sub sole novum […] Any action, in the fullness of time, sinks to nothingness.

Nihil sub sole novum, I thought as I walked back down the hall to my room. Any action, in the fullness of time, sinks to nothingness.

Not quite what one expected, but once it happened one realized it couldn’t be any other way.

Nothing is lonelier or more disorienting than insomnia.

the secret history quotes

One likes to think there’s something in it, that old platitude amor vincit omnia. But if I’ve learned one thing in my short sad life, it is that that particular platitude is a lie. Love doesn’t conquer everything. And whoever thinks it does is a fool.

Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think? Remember

Out on the lawn, Bunny had just knocked Henry’s ball about seventy feet outside the court. There was a ragged burst of laughter; faint, but clear, it floated back across the evening air. That laughter haunts me still.

People don’t pay attention to ninety percent of what they see.

Pragmatists are often strangely superstitious.

Probably I’ll be dead soon.

Reason is always apparent to a discerning eye. But luck? It’s invisible, erratic, angelic.

Richard Papen: As it happened, I knew Gartrell. He was a bad painter and a vicious gossip, with a vocabulary composed almost entirely of obscenities, gutteral verbs, and the world “postmodernist.

She looked up at me, her eyes large with compassion, with understanding of the solitude and incivility of grief.

She was a living reverie for me: the mere sight of her sparked an almost infinite range of fantasy, from Greek to Gothic, from vulgar to divine.

Sometimes when there’s been an accident and reality is too sudden and strange to comprehend, the surreal will take over.

That fire of pure being.

That surge of power and delight, of confidence, of control. That sudden sense of the richness of the world. Its infinite possibility.

That’s odd,’ said Henry. ‘The first thing I thought of when I tasted that coffee was you.

The ceilings had set off a ghostly echo, giving all that desperate hilarity the quality of a memory even as I sat listening to it, memories of things I’d never known.

The classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless… I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.

The lamplight was eerie, and, standing there motionless in our bathrobes, sleepy, with shadows flickering all around, I felt as though I had woken from one dream into an even more remote one, some bizarre wartime bomb shelter of the unconscious.

The mind is its own place and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell and so forth.

The most satisfying of languages, Latin.

The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.

Their reality was far more interesting than any idealized version could possibly be.

There are such things as ghosts. People everywhere have always known that. And we believe in them every bit as much as Homer did. Only now, we call them by different names. Memory. The unconscious.

There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty – unless she is wed to something more meaningful – is always superficial.

There was a horrible, erratic thumping in my chest, as if a large bird was trapped inside my ribcage and beating itself to death.

These are powerful mysteries. The bellowing of bulls. Springs of honey bubbling from the ground. If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.

They understand not only evil, it seemed, but the extravagance of tricks with which evil presents itself as good.

Things would have been terribly strange and unbalanced without her. She was the Queen who finished out the suit of dark Jacks, dark King, and Joker.

Though he didn’t treat them as equals – he didn’t treat anyone as an equal, actually – neither did he resort to the condescending friendliness of the wealthy.

Though I can digress with the best of them, I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.

Though Julian could be marvelously kind in difficult circumstances of all sorts, I sometimes got the feeling that he was less pleased by kindness itself than by the elegance of the gesture.

Time, and repeated screenings, have endowed the memory with a menace the original did not possess.

To be absolutely free! One is quite capable, of course, of working out these destructive passions in more vulgar and less efficient ways. But how glorious to release them in a single burst! To sing, to scream, to dance barefoot in the woods in the dead of night, with no more awareness of mortality than an animal.

Upon meeting Julian Morrow, one has the impression that he is a man of extraordinary sympathy and warmth. But what you call his ‘Asiatic serenity’ is, I think, a mask for great coldness. The face one shows him he invariably reflects back at one, creating the illusion of warmth and depth when in fact he is brittle and shallow as a mirror.

We stood looking at each other. It was raining. She looked at me with her rain-colored eyes.

we’d have to devise a plan, probably a rather Pyrrhic and unsatisfactory one.

Well, she doesn’t have anything to do with it, Richard, you’re just like that guy in ‘Dragnet’ that always wants the facts.

What are the dead, anyway, but waves and energy? Light shining from a dead star?

What is unthinkable is undoable.

the secret history quotes

Whatever else one may say about guilt, it certainly lends one diabolical powers of invention;

When you’re worried about something,’ said Henry abruptly, ‘have you ever tried thinking in a different language?

With a grief no less sharp for not being intimate with its object.

Yet my longing for her was like a bad cold that had hung on for years despite my conviction that I was sure to get over it at any moment.

You amaze me,” he said. “You think nothing exists if you can’t see it.

You couldn’t beat him away from Greek with a stick.

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