Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Karem, Frederick

Subject Headings

Tartt, Donna, The secret history -- Criticism and interpretation, Gothic fiction (Literary genre) -- Criticism and interpretation, Postmodernism (Literature), Fear in literature, Anxiety in literature, gothic postmodern gothic-postmodern anomie Donna Tartt The Secret History


The Secret History (1992) by Donna Tartt is a novel that explores the conditions of detachment and anomie that are represented by a group of six students at an eastern private college. This tale of murder and concealment -- combined with a lack of remorse and redemption -- is far from the traditional, coming-of-age school novel. I argue that The Secret History participates in the gothic-postmodern literary genre, even though it bears the trappings of other genres. Reading this novel through a gothic-postmodern lens reveals that this work is an exaggeration -- by way of the charged gothic atmosphere -- of the tendencies of detachment and anomie that are said to occur more frequently in postmodern society. This novel is a critique of the negative potential of postmodern society, and it provides a means of coping with -- and mastering -- the fears and anxieties inherent in postmodern society