The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
Review by Garry Craig Powell
Subtitled Why we tell stories, this book, which took the author 34 years to write, is not only Booker’s magnum opus, but one the great works of contemporary criticism. Building on Jungian archetypal psychology (and who isn’t a Jungian?) Booker’s thesis is that we read stories because we need to, in order to make sense of our lives, and more specifically because stories provide us with a blueprint for what Jung called individuation. For this reason, he contends, stories from all over the world, whether folktales or highly refined literary forms such as epic poetry or the modernist novel, or for that matter lowbrow entertainments like the James Bond movies, all tend to follow one of seven basic plots.