Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why and how we tell stories

In a monumental book Christopher Booker provides an answer to the old riddle of whether there are only a certain number of stories in the world. He contends that all storytelling is a variation of "The Basic Seven Plots". At first, this seems an absurd idea. But Booker's work - 700 pages of stunning literary research - is a truly remarkable achievement, penetrating the archetypal roots of human consciousness and imagination. A fascinating and important reading experience, not just for writers.


  1. Thank you very much, very interesting. The question touches a lot of things. Can there ever be something new under the sun? and if it occurs, can it be expressed and described?
    Do recurrent themes in mythology tell us something about contacts between civilizations or are they only constants in human imagination?

    In every human activity there is something previous, persistent and preserving and something consecutive, diversifying, changing and innovative. And both within (changing) limits (as life itself is possible only within strict limits and as shape designed by climate).

    If I've caught well the point, Booker has described the persistent element (only 7) as well as the innovative element (more than 1). That's good american scientific, pragmatic, existentialist philosophy, one could say.

  2. Seven categories of basic plots. Not six, neither eight. All basic rules of global und eternal importance occur in a biblical dimension.
    My order is on the way to Amazon.

  3. Sorry to ALL. I got the last volumen with reduced price....

  4. The essential of any story therefore stays only in topical variation. Every book is, according to Booker (what a name...!), a blend of some of the 7 categories if not representing only one of them. W.G.Sebald's "Austerlitz" is only tragedy? And what about prophecy?