Thursday, August 19, 2004

Another Pagan classic

I have been re-reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History, the leading entry in the literary genre of "when Classics majors go bad."

It was first published in 1992, and I did my part for her royalty payments by sending at least three hardcover copies as Christmas presents in 1993. Sales were good, Tartt's reputation soared, and some readers apparently worshipped at her feet.

Now I think it ought to be declared one of those unintentional Pagan classics like the film The Wicker Man. (The Fortean Times interview with director Robin Hardy is here.)

The Wicker Man's appeal lay in its portrayal of a fictional yet contemporary Pagan society, rather than its plot. The Secret History is a different sort of drug: it whispers of power and liberation in a seductive Romantic way, filtered through the mind of a 4th-century C.E. Hellenistic intellectual, the kind who would have referred to Christians as "atheists."


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