This remarkable and monumental book at last provides a comprehensive answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of 'basic stories' in the world. Using a wealth of examples, from ancient myths and folk tales via the plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, it shows that there are seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling. But this is only the prelude to an investigation into how and why we are 'programmed' to imagine stories in these ways, and how they relate to the inmost patterns of human psychology. Drawing on a vast array of examples, from Proust to detective stories, from the Marquis de Sade to E.T., Christopher Booker then leads us through the extraordinary changes in the nature of storytelling over the past 200 years, and why so many stories have 'lost the plot' by losing touch with their underlying archetypal purpose.Booker analyses why evolution has given us the need to tell stories and illustrates how storytelling has provided a uniquely revealing mirror to mankind's psychological development over the past 5000 years.This seminal book opens up in an entirely new way our understanding of the real purpose storytelling plays in our lives, and will be a talking point for years to come.
Such a big book
By Allen Smalling "Constant Reader," - October 11, 2005
and so inefficient. Truly I felt that underneath this persnickety and overwrought tome of literary archetypes and movements lies a slimmer, more cogent and helpful book screaming to be let out.
The problem is not really apparent with the book's first half, in which Booker analyzes his seven different kinds of plot themes and finds some wonderful coincidences between, say, our commercial culture and long-banished civilizations. (Dr. No and the Gilgamesh both feature solitary heroes going to the far side of the world to vanquish fearsome and bizarre monsters.)
As far as that goes, the book is useful and will painlessly teach genre studies and even a bit of comparative literature to the eager reader. The problem comes about halfway through the book when Booker, who appears eager to stamp out not only interpretations of books but discussion of books themselves that don't fit his seven-fold structure, condemns so much of modern literature as "romanticism." Well,... read more
Blame the romantics
By O. Buxton "Olly Buxton (@electricray)" - April 24, 2005
This book, which by all accounts has taken Christopher Booker 30 years to write, isn't the first attempt to distil all of storytelling down to a few archetypes. I dare say it won't be the last, either. While it's a fantastically learned, well-read, and at times insightful entry on the subject, it encounters the same problems others like Joseph Campbell have: that that the facts of actual literature tend to sit uneasily with the unifying theory, and that the unifying theory itself tends to rest on an analysis of human psychology which sounds like it might be so much bunk, and a particular world view - moral objectivism - which definitely is.
Both Jungian psychoanalysis and moral objectivity are taken as read by Christopher Booker and as such he spends no time justifying them (perhaps understandably - the arguments for and against each would fill this book many times over). Nonetheless, in my view, he's simply wrong about both of them, and it blows a Big Hole in his Big... read more
A great resource to help you write a bestselling novel or highly successful movie screenplay.
By Jeff Lippincott "JLIPPIN" - September 23, 2007
I liked this book very much. It was kind of longwinded. But since it is a resource book and not a mere how-to on writing, I could overlook how long it was. The more content the better because it gave me more examples and things to think about regarding the subject matter.
The book is broken into four basic parts:
1. The 7 basic plots 2. Stories told well 3. Stories not told well 4. Why people tell stories
And the 7 basic plots are as follows:
1. Overcoming themonster 2. Rags to riches 3. A journey - the quest 4. A journey - the voyage and return 5. Comedies 6. Tragedies 7. Rebirth
This book took 34 years to write (so says the author). But I think it took so long because the author was not motivated to finish it a lot sooner. This is true even though the book is kind of heavy at 728 pages. There are many stories cited throughout the book as examples of what the author discusses. And all... read more
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