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The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

The Seven Basic Plots (2004)

by Christopher Booker

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5561317,948 (3.86)18
  1. 10
    The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Interesting to contrast Campbell's 'hero monomyth' hypothesis with Booker's Freudian interpretation of how all literature, plays and films can be judged by how they match with his identification of universal plotlines.

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A titanic disappointment. Must all those who seek underlying unity in the human experience be reactionary bores? Can they really continue to ignore non-Western cultural expression almost entirely when they refer to "the world?" Can they seriously still try to raise up patriarchal norms that are greatly responsible for obliterating our former humility towards the living world as "nature's way?" As a lover of storytelling in all its forms, who shares Booker's notion of its centrality to our species' understanding of ourselves in the world, I couldn't disagree more with just about every other argument he puts forth in this tedious tome. ( )
  CSRodgers | Feb 17, 2017 |
Read the prologue, and the reviews, and decided it's not for me, sorry. Especially as one reviewer said, 'repetitive' and 'unfalsifiable.'
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
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 other book on the mythic structure of stories. If you're an academic or interested in the psychology of why we tell stories then you may find it interesting. ( )
  JMJ_Williamson | Apr 24, 2015 |
A very detailed examination of the plots that are universal in storytelling from the original myths and legends to current films and popular fiction. Not a read for those who are not serious readers, but would be extremely useful for students in later high school or first year university. ( )
  CarterPJ | Jul 24, 2013 |
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 numerous if partial examples from both literary and popular culture. The author's bias and erudition make this an enjoyable read and it is worth persevering to the end, however there are several annoying factual errors in the plot summaries. And Booker's despair with regard to novels and other works from the 18th century onwards, with a few exceptions (Crocodile Dundee is a bizarre and much-quoted example) leave one feeling frustrated.

A note of caution: Booker seems to believe that the only possible fulfilling relationship is that between a man and a woman, and that other permutations must by their nature lack validity. Which is a bit normative, if you ask me. But it remains a work that anyone who loves writing or reading should take a look at, if only because it provides a guide to many different types of plot and the archetypes that *may* underlie them.

This is one for fans of narrative closure! ;-)

( )
1 vote JessicaRydill | May 26, 2013 |
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'We dance around in a ring and suppose;

   But the Secret sits in the middle - and knows.'

                                                                      Robert Frost
This book is dedicated to the memory of my parents,

John and Margaret Booker, who, between them, gave me

such a magical introduction to the world of storytelling.
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Imagine we are about to be plunged into a story - any story in the world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0826480373, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

[This book] provides [an] answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of "basic stories" in the world. Using ... 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.-Dust jacket.… (more)

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