On Stories

On Stories

On Stories

On Stories

Synopsis

Stories offer us some of the richest and most enduring insights into the human condition and have preoccupied philosophy since Aristotle. On Stories presents in clear and compelling style just why narrative has this power over us and argues that the unnarrated life is not worth living. Drawing on the work of James Joyce, Sigmund Freud's patient 'Dora' and the case of Oscar Schindler, Richard Kearney skilfully illuminates how stories not only entertain us but can determine our lives and personal identities. He also considers nations as stories, including the story of Romulus and Remus in the founding of Rome. Throughout, On Stories stresses that, far from heralding the demise of narrative, the digital era merely opens up new stories.

Excerpt

I gratefully remember here those who first introduced me to the life of stories. My grandfather, George, who told me the story of the Twelve Little Kids every time he came to visit our childhood home. My grandmother, Delia, for endlessly recounting her magical stories of Ballinrobe romance in her attic bedroom in our Cork house, where she came to recover after my grandfather's death and which she never left until her own death some twelve years later. I remember too my father, Kevin, who let my grandmother come to stay with us on the understanding that her heart condition gave her only months to live, but who was no mean storyteller in his own right, despite his demanding schedule as a busy surgeon. The tale of his I recall the best is that of a mysterious Jacky Dory, which lasted some ten seconds and went like this - 'I'll tell you a story about Jacky Dory … (pause) … and that is the end of the story.' My six siblings and I were fascinated by this story of the excluded middle and spent much of our time as children trying to draw the secret from our father - without success. I am also grateful to my mother, Ann, for reading to the family every night before we slept (weeping each time she read her favourite tale, 'The Happy Prince'). And passing on to a new generation, I would like to thank my two beautiful and resolute daughters, Simone and Sarah, who refused to sleep as children until I told them the story of the Twelve Little Kids,

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