Why we tell stories

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The Seven Basic Plots
Why we tell stories
Christopher Booker
Continuum
ISBN 0-8264-8037-3

Readers of Middlemarch by George Eliot may recall the dry old scholar Rev Casaubon’s failed attempt to create a unifying ‘Key to all Mythologies’. (You may have briefly felt in passing, that Casaubon’s plan was irrelevant and futile.) But Booker has succeeded in doing this and much more – a quite remarkable analysis of the nature of story, in a project which took him 34 years. But do not be misled into thinking that this is a sterile academic book – it is highly readable! And for its 700 pages, remarkably cheap.

Booker’s highly convincing thesis is that almost all stories, from every culture or place in history, display seven archetypal plots. Some stories may indeed contain more than one plot, occasionally all seven. Stories that try to subvert their natural archetype can seem unsatisfying to us – jarring, like an out-of-tune or incomplete piece of music.

This book has huge significance for any Christian communicator, as it analyzes why we tell stories.

Why has God wired up our brains in this way? Add your comments below.

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