Industrial-Sized Deals TextBTS15 Shop Men's Hightops Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon David Ramirez $5 Off Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Shop Popular Services TransparentGGWin TransparentGGWin TransparentGGWin  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Gear Up for Football Deal of the Day
The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $32.95
  • Save: $9.85 (30%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Usually ships within 1 to 4 weeks.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Seven Basic Plots: Wh... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by SN Books Ltd
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: ALL BOOKS SHIPPED VIA AIRMAIL WITHIN 1 DAY OF PURCHASE!
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $9.11
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories Paperback – January 9, 2006

52 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$23.10
$18.96 $17.66

Best Books of the Year So Far
Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$23.10 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Usually ships within 1 to 4 weeks. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories + The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition + The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
Price for all three: $49.71

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many writing guides have suggested that fiction contains a limited number of basic plots, and Booker offers his version at great length. Furthermore, he claims all of these plots, from "overcoming the monster" to "rebirth," are variations on "the same great basic drama," a Jungian archetypal representation of the development and integration of the mature self. The meticulous detailing of this theory in plot summaries (of everything from Beowulf to Jaws, ancient comedy to modern tragedy, Western culture and Eastern) is an imposing enough task, but Booker is just warming up. In the book's second half, he explains how the psychological shortcomings of modern authors such as Shaw and Joyce led them to reject archetypal truth in favor of writing out their own sentimental and morbid fantasies. The biographical analysis is simplistic, however, and Booker makes numerous errors in the sections on film. The transition from literary criticism to Jungian psychology might be more bearable were it not saddled with an overabundance of academic cliché surprising in a writer of Booker's extensive journalistic background (he now contributes to England's Daily Telegraph). Clearly striving for the intellectual respectability of Northrop Frye, he falls far short, and accusing those who disagree with him of suffering from "limited ego-consciousness" doesn't help his case. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This magisterial volume really does offer readers a genuinely fresh and exciting perspective on virtually every tale ever told." —Bookmark, July 2005 (Bookmark)

'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 enthusiamsm for fictions of every description is infectious...The Seven Basic Plots is...one of the most diverting works on storytelling I've ever encountered.' Dennis Dutton, The Washington Post

'This is the most extraordinary, exhilarating book. It always seemed to me that 'the story' was God's way of giving meaning to crude creation. Booker now interprets the mind of God, and analyses not just the novel - which will never to me be quite the same again - but puts the narrative of contemporary human affairs into a new perspective. If it took its author a lifetime to write, one can only feel gratitude that he did it.'Fay Weldon, novelist

'An enormous piece of work...nothing less than the story of all stories. And an extraordinary tale it is ... Booker ranges over vast tracts of literature, drawing together the plots of everything from Beowulf to Bond, from Sophocles to soap opera, from Homer to Homer Simpson, to show the underlying parallels in stories from what appear to be the most disparate sources. If stories are about "what happens next", this book sets out to show that the answer is always "the same things", then to explain why. I found it absolutely fascinating.' 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

'Booker's knowledge and understanding of imaginative literature is unrivalled, his essays on the great authors both illuminating and stimulating. This is a truly important book, an accolade often bestowed and rarely deserved in our modern age.'Dame Beryl Bainbridge

Number 5 in Foyles bookshop Top Ten


'some splendid links between story and reality...enjoyably provocative'
(Gordon Parsons Morning Star)

'It's hard not to admire the commitment of any writer whose book has taken 34 years to evolve. And there can be no doubting that Christopher Booker's 700-page, exhaustive examination of "Why we tell stories" - the book's subtitle - is a labour of love.'
(Gordon Parsons Morning Star)

"....remarkable parallels between the structure of the modern film Jaws and that of the Old English Beowulf."
Writing Magazine


"If you have any interest in fiction and the way it works, you will enjoy this exploration of the seven basic plots and how they have been adapted and developed across the centuries."
Writing Magazine


"one of the most brilliant books of recent years" (Bel Mooney Times)

Mentioned in article about author in The Lady, 17/07/07
(The Lady)

Title mention in article
(Neil Philip Books For Keep)

"Fantastically entertaining" The Times


mention in Evangelical Times, 1 May 2009


"This magisterial volume really does offer readers a genuinely fresh and exciting perspective on virtually every tale ever told." —Bookmark, July 2005 (Sanford Lakoff)

'some splendid links between story and reality...enjoyably provocative'
(Sanford Lakoff Morning Star)

'It's hard not to admire the commitment of any writer whose book has taken 34 years to evolve. And there can be no doubting that Christopher Booker's 700-page, exhaustive examination of "Why we tell stories" - the book's subtitle - is a labour of love.'
(Sanford Lakoff Morning Star)

"one of the most brilliant books of recent years" (Sanford Lakoff Times)

Mentioned in article about author in The Lady, 17/07/07
(Sanford Lakoff)

Title mention in article
(Sanford Lakoff Books For Keep)

See all Editorial Reviews
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (January 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826480373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826480378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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, writers as diverse as Victor Hugo, Ayn Rand and E.T.A. Hoffman have all proudly described themselves as "romantic," and even that unwieldy tent under which to house those disparate authors is more helpful than Booker's cant, who damns the "romantic" canon as distracting literature (and its readers, of course) from its real purpose; i.e., to fit his seven-fold canon.

Not only is the argument circular, it is absurd. It is like saying that candles provide the best and most consistent indoor illumination, because that damned "electricity" isn't really a form of illumination, because . . . well, just because it isn't.
Read more ›
7 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
227 of 263 people found the following review helpful By Olly Buxton on April 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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 Idea.

Booker's Big Idea is this: when you boil them down, there are only seven archetypal stories in all of literature, and further that if you boil those archetypes down, they are in many ways the same story viewed from different perspectives. This is perhaps intuitively understandable: in the broadest sense all stories are a variation of "there once was a problem, and it got resolved" - but the kicker is this: Booker asserts that any story which fails to follow his prescription is - objectively - flawed. Now that sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it.

The first observation to make is that this significantly undermines his claim to have found a unifying theory: Suddenly, it's not all literature that follows the archetype, but all *good* literature.
Read more ›
19 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Lippincott on September 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
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 the stories cited are referenced in an index at the end of the book.

What I liked the most about the book was how logical and informative it was. I particularly liked the fact that I could look at the Table of Contents and pretty much tell what the book was about. As a result, reading the book was a pleasure. However, I did have to dig a little when it came to Chapter 12. At first glance I thought the author had added another plot and forgotten to tell me about it or to redo the title of the book. I probably would have liked the book better if Chapter 12 had been put someplace else.

When I read this book I also read The Writer's Journey (ISBN: 193290736X) and Story (ISBN: 0060391685).
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: children's story plots, the anima project, the alter girl, the structure of plot, the go between l.p. hartley