View Full Version : All stories .....

20th Feb 2013, 08:11
This is one of those "In hope rather than expectation" threads addressed to the broad learning that visits these pages and brings to them so much breadth of knowledge. That is, maybe one or more of the PPRuNesters can help.

Somewhere I read once a proposition that all stories are in essence the same Story. In this universal Story, (i) a Maiden dwells in a valley; (ii) a Youth comes to the valley; (iii) the Maiden meets the Youth; and (iv) the Youth leaves the valley.

Detail changes with each variation on the Story. The Maiden may be Hildegarde, or Betsy, or Marie-Josee; the Youth may be Karl, or Richard, or Jean-Claude; the valley may be remote in the Alps; or it may be Denver; or it may be Paris; none of that matters.

Vaguely I think it may have come from Jerome K Jerome, but that could very well be wrong. I am not concerned with the truth of the proposition, but with memory and its source. Does anyone else recall having encountered it? Tony Draper, perhaps, or ORAC? Or anyone?


green granite
20th Feb 2013, 08:16
Vaguely I think it may have come from Jerome K Jerome,

That would be the Thames Valley then. :cool:

20th Feb 2013, 08:28
I believe Quiller Couch proposed seven basic plots to cover all stories:

1.man against man
2.man against nature
3.man against himself
4.man against God
5.man against society
6.man caught in the middle
7.man and woman

20th Feb 2013, 09:35
I guess we can now add

8. man against machine

tony draper
20th Feb 2013, 10:17
Jerome K Jerome doesn't ring a bell though it may well have been,JKJ was fond of philosiphyzing asides in his stories.
The other ancient archetypal plot foundation is the one called I believe the 'Wonderful Boy' tiz the foundation of many a tale,a Boy or young man with some ability that sets him apart has a quest thrust upon him and is assisted in his task by a older wiser man wizard or divine being.
The Quest,we all have one.:rolleyes:
The Arthurian stories,Tolkien ect,even Big J had John The Baptist and his Dad lending a hand.
Dunno about this Johnny come lately from the sandy places,who's name we dare not mention.

20th Feb 2013, 11:40

You are quite right. Jerome K. Jerome. But I've just been searching through the book and can't find it. That's searching quickly through each of 'Three men in a boat', 'Diary of a pilgrimage' and 'Three men on the Bummel'. It's in one of them!

20th Feb 2013, 11:46
'Three Men On The Bummel' is a bit different:

Three blokes go to Germany. They laugh at the Germans. They go home. :p

20th Feb 2013, 11:49
In the same vein, P J O'Rourke's 'Cliff Notes to Cliff Notes' (for the very lazy student):

The Old Testament - God invents Man and everything Man does pisses God off.

20th Feb 2013, 11:54
At one time, Three Men on the Bummel was used as an English reading book in German schools.

20th Feb 2013, 13:28
The Old Testament - God invents Man and everything Man does pisses God off
The archetype here would be Cosmic Justice.

God had it coming to him, yes? :8

20th Feb 2013, 13:34
yeah, and all (or at least most) stories seem to have been written already, so now it's documentaries and realities.
But then the reality beats all stories sometimes, of course.

20th Feb 2013, 13:36
The Old Testament - God invents Man and everything Man does pisses God off

Sounds like a personal problem.
Self-Inflicted Wound in my book, since God's supposedly omniscient & omnipotent.

I'll do what I like, then.

Mac the Knife
20th Feb 2013, 13:59
"La chair est triste, hélas ! et j'ai lu tous les livres."



Edited to put in the poem , which I rather like

Brise Marine

"La chair est triste, hélas ! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
Fuir ! là-bas fuir ! Je sens que des oiseaux sont ivres
D’être parmi l’écume inconnue et les cieux !
Rien, ni les vieux jardins reflétés par les yeux
Ne retiendra ce cœur qui dans la mer se trempe
Ô nuits ! ni la clarté déserte de ma lampe
Sur le vide papier que la blancheur défend
Et ni la jeune femme allaitant son enfant.
Je partirai ! Steamer balançant ta mâture,
Lève l’ancre pour une exotique nature !

Un Ennui, désolé par les cruels espoirs,
Croit encore à l’adieu suprême des mouchoirs !
Et, peut-être, les mâts, invitant les orages
Sont-ils de ceux qu’un vent penche sur les naufrages
Perdus, sans mâts, sans mâts, ni fertiles îlots…
Mais, ô mon cœur, entends le chant des matelots !"

Stéphane Mallarmé (18 March 1842 – 9 September 1898) (http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Auteur:St%C3%A9phane_Mallarm%C3%A9)

20th Feb 2013, 14:15
I'm not sure that my input will be of any help or is in fact very far off the mark, but the very best stories (whatever their composition and subject matter) etc., should only be consummed whilst...

1) sitting in the warm embrace of a close relative (eg. sitting on grandad's / grandma's / favourite uncle's knees) - "immediate parents" don't count because they're obviously going to be also considering whether their child/ren will have unpleasant dreams and therefore suffer the consequences of being awoken later...

2) being read by torch-light "under the covers" in private...

3) somewhere warm and comfortable (especially for all the over-grown children amongst us), either reading for themselves, or being recounted to by elders around a fiery-hearth in the African bush, a cottage in Wales or somewhere similar... :ok:

PS. Of some relevance perhaps, this BBC report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21511617) concerning the best-selling author Patricia Cornwell: Anchin, Block and Anchin described Cornwell as a demanding client who would use the firm for everything from arranging care for her mother to taking her clothes to the tailor. I never realised that any authors' agents / managers would have to involve themselves quite so intimately in the lives of their writers...?! :ouch:

Would "Anchin, Block and Anchin" be willing to represent airship and his contributions to JB? Obviously bearing in mind the eventual book to be published whenever. Meanwhile, would the eventual "book advances and commissions" and probably worth US$ millions, not suitably cover most of airship's everyday gripes whilst writing (eg. "I've run out of Scotch, please deliver 1L of Ballantynes within 30 minutes", or "I've written so much that I no longer have any time or incentive to cook meself, please organise delivery of 4pcs. x chicken tandoori, 4 x keema nans from the local Bollywood Indian restaurant"... :ok:

tony draper
20th Feb 2013, 15:28
I remember the bit in Three Men on a Bummel where the trio are hiking up a mountain and have been told the Germans have built a restaurant on top of same this they consider this in extremely bad taste to treat such magnificent scenery thusly, however the further they get up said mountain the hungrier and thirstier they become they begin to argue the advantage and forethought that has gone into this restaurant endeavor
Mr Jerome was a writer of rare brilliant gentle humor.

21st Feb 2013, 17:35
Thanks for all replies.

1. radeng. Your sources sound about right. I have them all, somewhere, and I suppose my query was prompted by laziness. Now I start the search within these limitations.

2. SSK. Now for a digression: No doubt the good Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch had his reasons, looked kinda neat, maybe, to write under a pseudonym, for which his choice ran to “Q”. Many authors do that; but why do Sir Arthur’s published works then appear as written by: “‘Q’ (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch).“ What was the point of the pseudonym? One of Life’s Mysteries.

3. tony draper: .... even Big J had John the Baptist and his Dad lending a hand.

The Old Book has many analogous examples. I understand that in Talmudic scholarship the scheme is known as “midrash”; or, once you latch on to a good tale, don't let it go to waste. Allow a few years to pass and then refine it into yet another good tale. This is “The ability to rework an ancient theme in a new context”. But do not let on what you are doing, or the cat out of the bag.

Luke in the Book of Acts lifts the story of Pentecost from long Jewish symbolism of fire, from the pillar of fire in the wilderness to the fire associated with Elijah, and the mighty rushing wind that indicates the Spirit, all at different times.

I am lifting all this myself straight from “Resurrection: Myth or Reality?” by (Bishop) John Shelby Spong. He cites many examples.

4. Mac the Knife: “... j’ai lu tous les livres.” You are ahead of me with the “tous”, but Frau Davaar now refers to whichever volume I have in hand at any time as “your safety book”.

spInY nORmAn
21st Feb 2013, 19:21
Christopher Booker (one of the founders of 'Private Eye') wrote a lengthy tome on this subject titled "The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories" that he apparently spent 30 years researching. The seven story archetypes he proposed were:

Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return

wings folded
21st Feb 2013, 19:28
I was given a birthday gift some time back, of a book entitled "Prince Harry's First Quiz Book"

One of the questions was: "if there are only seven basic story plots, why was none of them ever used in the Dukes of Hazard?

(another was is it better to travel in hope than to arrive in Crawley? but I digress)

blue up
21st Feb 2013, 19:47
I once read that there were only three stories:

- Man against man

- Man against nature

- Man against himself

- Man against Woman

- Woman against Woman.

- Woman against Horse

Oh, wait. I think this is Slashers' video collection.:E

22nd Feb 2013, 12:00

It's 'Three Men on the Bummel', Chapter 5, and 17 pages into the chapter in the facsimile of the original.

"Every valley where lie homesteads has its song. I will tell you the plot; you can turn it into verse and set it to music of your own.

There lived a lass, and there came a lad, who loved and rode away.

It is monotonous song, written in many languages; for the young man seems to have been a mighty traveller."

24th Feb 2013, 06:48

Many thanks.


24th Feb 2013, 11:14

You're welcome! JKJ is one of my favourite authors, and the book is starting to fall apart from being read so often.