Can all the stories of the world be summarised as just seven basic plots, or even just the four narrative forms first defined by Aristotle? There is a long history of trying to make sense of the common patterns of stories, myths and legends. This episode of The Burning Archive examines tragedy and comedy, the story of the story of stories, the seven basic plots, and how even historians write their histories with these plots. But can the inventiveness of great storytellers really be limited to seven basic plots. Will Scheherazade outwit, outlast and outplay the critics?
Material referred to in the show is
- Tales from the Thousand and One Nights
- Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (2004)
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1948)
- Hayden White, Metahistory (1973)
Thanks to Freya Rich, Isaac Rich, Ryan and Haidi for contributing the listener questions to the show.