7 reflections while reading The Secret History



1.But this facial cast om mine(that’s what I think it is,really, a way my mouth has of turning down at the corners, it has little to do with my actual moods) has worked as often to my favor as to my disadvantage.


Huh. So Richard Papen has “resting bitchface”. The term wasn’t invented then but it seems evident to me. I don’t know if it changes anything, maybe I just feel closer to him as I also suffer from that sort of facial cast.

2. Most startling of all, a splendid dark cartoon of a black eye was  stamped in a ring on my eye socket, in the richest ink of Tyrian, chartreuse and, and plum


Yeah, I know we are talking about Richard’s bruise but still such a wonderful combination of  colors, especially the last two. So that’s what I want for summer; a dress in the colour of a bruise. And a t-shirt with the words “Beauty is terror”. Will probably reach a new “all time high” when it comes to  weird outfits.


3. “Have some champagne”, quick Bunny said. “It’s going flat.” “Where is it?” “In the teapot”


This is not where I got the idea to serve cocktails in teapots but now, as I was rereading it, I did notice it and approve wholeheartedly. I’m not surprised though; that old speak-easy trick has a lot of charm to it and probably has been used as by people all along. Do your own thing and now and again you will be trendy.

4. It was beautiful room, not an office at all, and much bigger than it looked from outside.-airy and white, with a high ceiling and a breeze fluttering the starched curtains. In the corner, near a low bookshelf, was a big round table littered with teapots and Greek books, and there were flowers everywhere, roses and carnations and anemones, on his desk, on the table, on the windowsill. The roses were especially fragrant; their smell hung rich and heavy in the air, mingled with the smell of bergamot,and China black tea, and a faint inky scent of camphor. Breathing  deep, I felt intoxicated. Everywhere I looked was something beautiful-oriental rugs,porcelains,tiny paintings like jewels- a dazzle of fractured color that struck me as if I had stepped into one of those little Byzantine churches that are so plain on the outside; inside , the most paradisal painted eggshell of gilt and tesserae.


Interior design goals. Still. Always. I don’t know if my love of many of these things made me connect with the book or the other way around. I was 17 when I read it the first time, utterly lost and frustrated. Anyone who has been to my home knows I love oriental rugs,flowers,teapots(full of earl grey preferable),stacks of books and little knick-knacks. I’m also pretty confident that Julian would have excellent taste in scented candles say a Diptyque “Baies” or something from Cire Trudon.

5. ..and spent the summer drowsing on his rooftop deck,smoking cigarettes, reading Proust, dreaming about death and indolence and beauty and time.

I can mention many a passage on this subject; the literary references are many and not far apart. There is no problem reading this without having read classic literature ; I did the first few times. Now that I have though? I’m covered in in just a thin layer of intellectual smugness. Very briefly at least; then I look at my shelves and realize that some of what I read would horrify Julian. However it is pointed out that Orwell, in this made up story, didn’t feel that Julian was trustworthy. And if I have to choose I’m siding with Orwell. Brilliant man and someone who alos had some terrific ideas about interior design(we’ll get to that at some point). Orwell also understood the point of pulp and other besmirched genres.

6.  “I’ll be thinking of you while I’m drinking Campari and riding the gondolas”he said winking.

Campari is red

Violets are blue

Bunny is an idiot

and if you think gondolas are a thing in Rome

then so are you.

(Show a little respect for Italian culture. Gondolas are a thing in Venice which is in the other end of the country. And for reference; “O sole mio” is a song from Naples and shouldn’t be sung by Gondolieri. Have a Campari soda though, Bunny got that right. And I understand his swooning over luxurious hotel stationary. A broken clock shows the right time twice a day and all that.)

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

Case closed.






10 thoughts on “7 reflections while reading The Secret History”

  1. You had me at a t-shirt with “beauty is terror”! Love that whole passage, remember reading it over and over again, is that where Camilla reads out loud? Time for a reread I think! Sidenote, what’s your favourite earl gray?

  2. You made me want to read this again. I don’t know what it is with me and rereading at the moment… I think I was in my very late teens or very early twenties when I first read this. Along with Brideshead Revisited, I think it’s a perfect thing to read in the university.

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