The Seven Basic Plots : Why we tell stories
Novel Idea Bookshop Toorak
Breathtaking in its scope and originality, "Seven Basic Plots" examines the basis of story telling in literature, film, and libretto. No one will ever see stories in the same way again. 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.
"This book...has mind-expanding properties. Not only for anyone interested in literature, but also for those fascinated by wider questions of how human beings organise their societies and explain the outside world to their inmost selves, it is fascinating. Katherine Sale, FT Christopher Booker's mammoth account of plot types, archetypes, their role in literary history and where Western culture has gone horribly wrong. Times Literary Supplement His prose is a model of clarity, and his lively enthusiasm for fictions of every description is infectious... The Seven Basic Plots is nevertheless one of the most diverting works on storytelling I've ever encountered. Dennis Dutton, The Washington Post This is the most extraordinary, exhilarating book. Fay Weldon, novelist An enormous piece of work, not really one book at all but at least three... nothing less than the story of all stories. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye This is literally an incomparable book, because there is nothing to compare it with. It goes to the heart of man's cultural evolution through the stories we have told since storytelling began. It illuminates our nature, our beliefs and our collective emotions by shining a bright light on them from a completely new angle. Original, profound, fascinating - and on top of it all, a really good read. Sir Antony Jay, co-author of Yes, Minister I have been quite bowled over by Christopher Booker's new book. It is so well planned with an excellent beginning and the contrasts and comparisons throughout are highly entertaining as well as informative and most original - and always extremely readable. John Bayley This is a truly important book, an accolade often bestowed and rarely deserved in our modern age. Dame Beryl Bainbridge"
Over the past 40 years Christopher Booker has established a reputation as one of Britain's most original writers and journalists. The founding editor of Private Eye, his previous books have ranged from The Neophiliacs to The Great Deception (Continuum 2003).
Introduction and Historical Note; Part One: The Seven Gateways to the Underworld; Part Two: The Complete Happy Ending; Part Three: Missing the Mark; Part Four: Why We Tell Stories; Epilogue.