- Paperback: 736 pages
- Publisher: Continuum; 1 edition (September 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0826480373
- ISBN-13: 978-0826480378
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 74 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Discover collectible copies of the books you love
Explore rare and antiquarian books from independent booksellers around the world. Learn more on AbeBooks.com.
"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
About the Author
Christopher Booker writes for the Sunday Telegraph and is the bestselling author of The Seven Basic Plots, The Real Global Warming Disaster, The Great Deception and Scared to Death (all published by Bloomsbury Continuum). He has been an author and journalist for nearly 50 years, and was the founding editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
- An introduction to the seven basic plots and their many associated archetypes that work in combination.
- A system. It can be applied to any story you know (and it’s fun to do so).
- A tool. An almost obligatory read for anyone who invents stories. If you don’t tap on this 37 years research you’re simple on disadvantage. It’s not that everyone should follow the author's guidance in order to write stories that fulfill the self and not the ego, on the contrary, a writer might find herself not wanting to do so, but the structure the book provides is a map to decide when and how to move away or within the Self archetypical path.
- A partial and moral history of literature, and an even more partial and equally moral history of Western culture.
- A psychoanalis of our modern western culture, throughout the stories we invent and the ones we tell ourselves. And it's, indeed, a moralistic analysis, something that can pull the nerves of a grownup reader.
- A compendium of great and diverse stories.
- A source of unexpected spoilers (if you read the book be very careful with this, for it reveals the plot of so many stories and books, that chances are it will spoil something you want to read. I had to overlook several paragraphs when reading).
The Odyssey versus Ulysses, E.T. versus Encounters of the Third Type, Terminator versus Frankenstein… in each comparison the author prefers the first and rejects the second option. Interestingly, this framework (or as I called it: system) allows strange and yet consistent and justifiable comparisons, such as Jaws versus Gilgamesh (borrowing a famous gedankenexperiment from Chomsky, if someone told these two stories to a martian, it will think they are just two slightly different versions of the same). It’s refreshing to see how the author jumps without loss of continuity from Hollywood B movies to universal classics. And this tool's lack of respect for the boundaries between high and low cultures (the below-the-line and the above-the-line archetype), which is itself a moral construct, compensates, in my opinion, its otherwise unbearable moralism regarding other aspects (ego versus self).
In summary: vaccinate yourself against moralism, enjoy this awesome construction and the many stories it contains, be aware of spoilers, and use what you learned to write great new stories.
In some ways this book is not as immediately useful as, say, 'Save the Cat' and others like it are useful for screenwriting. However, I think this book delivers the groundwork for stories--the groundwork beyond which we cannot go. Its information is more fundamental than the 'Save the Cat' types. If I were a literature professor, this might well be the book I started with.
As he moves into how stories have gone rogue, trying to escape from the archetypal patterns, the book begins to become repetitive, and the tone begins to change from that of confident lecturer to exasperated preacher. But these chapters are still valuable.
Then he applies the archetypes to history, and things become not only repetitive, especially if you already know something about history in general and the history of religion in particular, but also without clear focus. I'm not sure he is always correct with either his facts or his analysis, although generally I consider him authoritative. It also seems to me that he is projecting the archetypes onto history, which is one of the things he warns against.
Still, I find his thesis very useful, which in short is that as we lose touch with our religious ties to God, and therewith our ties to the Self (Jung), we become isolated and egotistical, on both the individual level as well as the national level. And, furthermore, that story structure can tell us how we are deficient if only we have the humility to look for it, again, both as groups, even nations, and as individuals. Ultimately these could be the most profound and important chapters of the book, but a good editor would have been useful to sort them out. For me, they were a bonus: not what I bought the book for, but a welcome introduction to the possibility of using stories to heal ourselves.