menu Language Is A Virus

The Secret History - Characters - Julian Morrow

JULIAN (m) From the Roman name Julianus, which was derived from JULIUS. This was the name of the last pagan Roman emperor as well as several early saints.

Favorite Excerpts

Nearly everyone had heard of him, and I was given all sorts of contradictory but fascinating information: that he was a brilliant man; that he was a fraud; that he had no college degree; that he had been a great intellectual in the forties, and a friend of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot; that his family money had come from a partnership in a white-shoe banking firm or, conversely, from the purchase of foreclosed property during the depression; that he had dodged the draft in some war (though chronologically this was difficult to compute); that he had ties with the Vatican; a deposed royal family in the Middle East; Franco's Spain.

Julian answered the door exactly as he had the first time, by opening it only a crack and looking through it warily, as if there were something wonderful in his office that needed guarding, something that he was careful not everyone should see.

- Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Montblanc Fountain Pen  ++ Click to view larger image ++
He reached for a pen in a cup on his desk; amazingly, it was full of Montblanc fountain pens, Meisterstücks, at least a dozen of them.

- Donna Tartt, The Secret History


Vintage Pens

T.S. EliotT.S. Eliot The T.S. Eliot Page
Directory of online sources including: mailing lists, discussion groups, e-zines, bios, poetry texts, parodies, recordings.

Ezra PoundEzra Pound Ezra Pound Research and Reference Guide
Primary works, selected bibliography, critical: books and articles.

What did you think of Julian Morrow?
Your Comments

Does anyone else think that maybe Julian orchestrated the murders? To live out a romanticised, beautiful, brutish/harsh Greek tragedy/ Dostoyevsky plot? He used and manipulated Henry by enchanting him and encouraging him to fall in love with him (the kiss). Henry in turn could manipulate the others because they were all in love with one another. Henry< Camilla< Charles<Francis. Bunny seemed the obvious choice for their plan because he was the wild and unreliable and people would object the least (no one was in love with him). Julian brought Richard in for Henry to use as a pawn as he later realizes. I think Henry and Julian were discussing it in the office at the end when Richard came in and saw that Julian saw the letter head and therefore 'discovered' that they murdered Bunny. Julian decided to not admit his part and flee for protection, abandoning Henry and breaking his heart-hence the suicide- (or maybe his manipulation went far enough for him to make Henry kill himself as the only other person who knew his involvement). As the book is narrated from the point of view of Richard, we will never know. Has anyone else thought this?
REPLY: Of all the characters, I found him the least sympathetic. As someone else mentioned, Julian is narcissistic. As a mentor, he failed the group in two critical moments: whole-heartedly endorsing Henry's Bacchanal without any caution of pitfalls, and abandoning the group at the end when he feared for his own name. No doubt he's full of charisma and wit, but he also lacks a backbone and moral courage.
I think he was the Devil. He abandoned the group at the point they began to exhibit remorse.
Julian confuses me...

- Oliver
12:50 am, thursday, february 9, 2006

Julian is based on a real person, Claude Fredericks, who was the teacher of Donna at Bennington.

- martyn
7:04 am, tuesday, september 20, 2005

Julian had an interest in and views on things very similar to another literary superhuman genius-Lecter. But are they really comparable? While playing the benevolent teacher, there is something about Julian that seems flat and unexplained. That fails to ring true. We are told he is loved by them, that Henry considers him a 'divinity,' but I'm not convinced the reader is ever given anything to show why he was so revered. I wanted to like him but in the end I could not.
3:00 pm, tuesday, july 19, 2005

Julian is almost superhuman, which makes everything somewhat fictitious.

- mememe
7:54 am, tuesday, april 12, 2005

Julian confuses me

- nadine
7:28 am, tuesday, april 12, 2005

The Secret History includes 4 three-dimensional characters, viz. Henry, Richard, Francis and Bunny. Although Julian is very close to being a fifth he doesn't quite make the cut. We first meet Julian when Richard goes to the latter's room to enquire about joining his elite class. At this point, through his wonderfully eccentric, and pensive gaze, the character is enigmatic and promising. Coinciding with this odd performance, we are told of his wealth of finance and knowledge, and our expectations are thus raised: intelligent readers begin to dream that here is a conundrum of a teacher to compare with, M. de Charlus from Marcel Proust's great novel, In Search of Lost Time. But the magnificent comparison does not last the book's course. Tartt fails to colour her drawing of Julian so intricately as Proust does of his wicked tutor, because working on a far smaller scale to Proust, Tartt is unable to devote sufficient space to Juilian to let him breathe independently of the main characters. Moreover, there are some errors of editing vis-a-vis him: it was never truly explained why Henry kissed him briefly. Were they gay lovers? It's possible; but this is an area which should have been explored in much greater depth to allow us to treat Julian like we treat the aforementioned quartet in the personal manner that AC Bradley spoke of Shakespeare's finest creations. But nonetheless Julian is intriguing, for what we know about him, and for his role in the novel as immoral tutor. For a film, Ian McKellan in Gods and Monsters form, would bring out Julian's sexual, introverted, Machiavellian, and intellectual nature best.

- Ian
6:11 am, tuesday, december 21, 2004

I think the reason Julian had to leave is because the thing he loved most became a distaster. His character was so distinct and driven, He felt loss similar to a lover, sometimes that pain can be so consuming you have to remove yourself to not be reminded of the pain and betrayel

- May
2:05 pm, friday, december 3, 2004

This is one film that should never be made.

In trying to capture it on celluloid, Hollywood would surely destroy the exquisite delicacy of the book, turning it into nothing more than a high-brow version of 'I know what you did last summer'.

- Emmanuelle Goldstein
5:51 am, thursday, july 8, 2004

About Julian's "betrayal" ( I know this may sound harsh) but the boys were conducting an experiment and messed everything up. And then Henry going on a trip with Bunny with a diary that he a. should not be keeping and b. should hide somewhere that no one could ever find, especially Bunny. Julian had both legal and moral responsibility but what he claims: that there is nothing he can do, is true. The cohesion of the group has been undermined by the murder which was not as easy as it looked at some point, and by the conflict between Henry and Charles. If Henry and the rest do not wish to shoulder the legal responsibility why should Julian? The handling of Bunny's murder is incredibly naive. They could easily just dispose of the body (acid substances can even liquidate bones). But these accidents constitute the crux that can support a tragic plot: a comparatively simple business, botched. I hope that this clarifies certain things.
justus lipsius
7:55 am, thursday, june 3, 2004

He was the only character that did not strike any sympathy from me. I mean how could run away from the at the very end, particularly Henry, who adored him. He betrayed them, and at the time they needed him the most.
However, i must agree that i admire Julian's zest for life, and his love of the Classics, his, is true enthusiasm.
I wish all teachers could be like him during teaching.

- Glenda
4:34 pm, saturday, june 7, 2003

I'm really surprised that only so few people like Julian. I think he was a great mentor and taught valuable principles to the Group.

- John
8:50 am, monday, january 27, 2003

Julian was a narcissist. He enjoyed excitement, perfection, center stage. Flaws were ignored or disposed of. When Julian's prize pupils became flawed, he deserted them...I am certain he embraced the excitement of heartwreching unbearable trauma for exactly as long as it amused him to feel that way...and then regrouped in another Julian-centered drama with a new cast.
9:45 pm, friday, january 24, 2003

I liked him, until he left his students in the lurch. I can understand that but cannot quite condone it.

- Just Sarah
6:03 am, monday, december 30, 2002

I am surprised that not many like Julian. I loved the man until he deserted the students. I will never forgive him for that. He was, and, I think, is, something I've searched for, for quite some time.

- Anon.
5:29 am, wednesday, december 11, 2002

I hated Julian. He was a classic example of the failings of academia. The stories of his royal pupils, his travels and his experiences, only diminish him as a person. The fact that the group didn't tell him of their success at the ritual and the subsequent murder only serves to illustrate that, although they thought of him as a mentor, they distrusted his loyalty to them. He was an amused deity to them, and they knew it.

- Sarah Jane
3:54 pm, sunday, december 1, 2002

His brilliance has an intense lure. While I'm disgusted in his abandoning of the students. I still like him.
12:50 am, thursday, november 21, 2002

No one likes Julian. How odd. I always saw him as Peter O'Toole on a Tour de Force. Beneath the unswerving demeanor, at once Hannibal Lecter and Mary Poppins. If there really was a Julian, I would want to know him.

- Chris
12:25 am, saturday, november 2, 2002