By Peter Conrad
Books end, but the stories they tell continue; if they are retold often enough, they acquire the status of myth. This accessible and entertaining book by a leading novelist and critic traces the multiple incarnations of four pervasive stories: those of Chaucer's pilgrims, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and King Lear, and the story of Prometheus. Looking at cultural renewals as varied as Romantic music, the films of Michael Powell and Pasolini, an Elvis Presley song, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the writing of T.S. Eliot and William Burroughs, Conrad's engaging book shows how, by retelling its stories, our culture recreates and reckons with its past.