The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories

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A&C Black, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 728 pages
7 Reviews
From The Epic of Gilgemesh to Jaws and Schindler's List, Christopher Booker examines in detail the stories that underlie literature and the plots that are basic to story telling through the ages. In this magisterial work he examines the plots of films, opera libretti and the contemporary novel and short story. Underlying the stories he examines are Seven Basic Plots: rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; the hero as monster; rebirth and so on. Booker shows that the images and stories serve a far deeper and more significant purpose in our lives than we have realised. In the definition of these basic plots, Booker shows us we are entering a realm in which the recognition of the plots proves only to be the gateway. We are in fact uncovering a kind of hidden universal language: a nucleus of situations and figures which are the very stuff from which stories are made. With Booker's exploration, there is literally no story in the world which cannot be seen in a new light: we have come to the heart of what stories are about and why we tell them. Here, Christopher Booker moves on from some of the themes he outlined in his hugely bestselling book The Neophiliacs. Seven Basic Plots is unquestionably his most important book to date.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JMJ_Williamson - LibraryThing

This is quite an academic tombstone of a book to read. I enjoyed it, but it will not be everyone's choice. If you're looking for a practical guide on story structure this is not it. There are lots of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JessicaRydill - LibraryThing

A fascinating but infuriating book which requires one to accept the premise that Jungian archetypes form the only satisfying basis for a narrative. This premise is explored through the means of ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction and historical notes
1
THE SEVEN GATEWAYS TO THE UNDERWORLD
7
Prologue to Part One
17
Overcoming the Monster
21
The Monster II and the Thrilling Escape From Death
31
Rags to Riches
51
The Quest
69
Voyage and Return
87
Prologue to Part Two
239
The Dark Figures
241
The Feminine and Masculine Values
253
The Perfect Balance
267
The Unrealised Value
277
The Archetypal Family Drama Continued
289
The Light Figures
297
Reaching the Goal
311

Comedy
107
The Plot Disguised
131
The Five Stages
153
The Divided Self
173
The Hero as Monster
181
Rebirth
193
From Shadow into Light
215
The Rule of Three the role played in stories by numbers
229
THE COMPLETE HAPPY ENDING
237
The Fatal Flaw
329
Enter the Dark Inversion
347
End From Chekhov to Close Encounters
425
Why Sex and Violence? The Active Ego The TwentiethCentury
455
WHY WE TELL STORIES
541
The Light and the Shadows on the Wall
699
Glossary of Terms
707
Index of Stories Cited
715
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

As a noted commentator on the political, social and psychological history of our time, Christopher Booker has in recent years, through his weekly Sunday Telegraph column, become the most conspicuous 'global warming sceptic' in the British press. He has based his view on exhaustive research into the scientific evidence for and against the theory of 'man-made climate change'.

His professional interest in this issue grew out of research for his previous book Scared To Death, co-written with Dr Richard North, a study of the 'scare phenomenon' which has been such a prominent feature of Western life in recent decades. Booker's other recent books have included The Seven Basic Plots, a best-selling analysis of why we tell stories which has established itself as a standard text (also published by Continuum). He has been an author and journalist for nearly 50 years, and was the founding editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye.

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