To Be Continued: Four Stories and Their Survival

By Peter Conrad | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
THE FORESIGHT OF PROMETHEUS

EACH of us experiences life as a continuum, a continuous present: we have forgotten the moment when we began, and are mercifully ignorant of the moment when we will end. Continuations also defer the end, and beg the question of the beginning. It is convenient to derive a story from a previous story, because how could any story dare to generate itself? In order to know where to begin from, it would have to go back to the beginning when--as one fabulation puts it--God made the heaven and the earth. Then it would have to backtrack even further and ask what existed before heaven and earth were made, what they were made from, and who made God. The wisest of beginnings admits that it is abridging all the millennia between the big bang or the advent of light and the particular story it wants to tell: this is the fairy-tale's introductory spell, 'Once upon a time', which avoids giving that time a date. It sets the fabled time in space instead, and imagines it as a timeless state, a place we can rest upon, as comfortably enveloping as a bed.

Most stories are content to continue, and like all of us they can get through the day without bothering about where they came from and how the world they occur in came to be. We assume that

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To Be Continued: Four Stories and Their Survival
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Arrival at Canterbury 7
  • Chapter Two - Romeos, Juliets, and Music 47
  • Chapter Three - Expatriating Lear 95
  • Chapter Four - The Foresight of Prometheus 153
  • Index 205
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