The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
Humans live in landscapes of make-believe: we spin fantasies, we devour novels, films, and plays, and even our sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why? In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories are a way of rehearsing life’s complex social problems.Our penchant for story has evolved, like other behaviors, to enhance our survival, and, crucially, that of our social group. (In fact, studies show that people who read fiction are more empathetic.) Gottschall explores the deep pattern in children’s make-believe, and what that reveals about story’s prehistoric origins. He shows how a story was partly responsible for Hitler’s rise, how schizophrenia is an example of the story mind run amok, and how successful fiction is inherently moral. We are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.
Preface xi The Witchery of Story 1 The Riddle of Fiction 21 Hell Is Story-Friendly 45 Night Story 68 The Mind Is a Storyteller 87 The Moral of the Story 117 Ink People Change the World 139 Life Stories 156 The Future of Story 177 Notes 201 Acknowledgments 213 Bibliography 215 Credits 231 Index 233
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
A well written book about why humans are enthralled with the concept of story and have been since our humble beginnings as hunters and gatherers. It's gripping, informational, and entertaining. I'd recommend it to anyone.