THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS by Christopher Booker

TheSevenBasicPlotsTHE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS by Christopher Booker is a provocative book. The basic idea is that any story can be boiled down to one of seven plots:

  • Overcoming the Monster
  • Rags to Riches
  • The Quest
  • Voyage and Return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth

What is excellent about this book is the amount of learning involved and the interesting connections made between authors as disparate as Jane Austen and Luigi Pirandello. However, this is a big book at over 700 pages, and I think that part of it could have been condensed.

Like other readers, I believe that the strength of the book lies in Part One of the book, titled THE SEVEN GATEWAYS TO THE UNDERWORLD. The following three parts are less strong, mainly because of Booker’s contention that any narrative, such as Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, which doesn’t conform to what Booker takes to be archytypal norms, is fatally flawed. That this can’t possibly be true is borne out by the fact that is ranked at number 59 on Amazon’s list of Bargain Books. Readers continue to love this book some 200 years after it was published. So it obviously isn’t “fatally flawed” for them.

If you are interested in reading a provocative interesting account of stories, and how they might relate to our psychology, this book is for you. For my part, I think that a strong editorial hand was needed on Parts Two, Three and Four, which were too often filled with silly Freudian cliches. Three stars.

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