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Seduced by Story

Seduced by Story

The Use and Abuse of Narrative

by Peter Brooks

Regular price $17.95
Regular price Sale price $17.95

Chosen by New York Magazine/Vulture as a Best Book of 2022

“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it.” So begins the scholar and literary critic Peter Brooks’s reckoning with today’s flourishing cult of story. Forty years after publishing his seminal work Reading for the Plot, his important contribution to what came to be known as the “narrative turn” in contemporary criticism and philosophy, Brooks returns to question the unquestioning fashion in which story is now embraced as an excuse or explanation and the fact that every brand or politician comes equipped with one. In a discussion that ranges from The Girl on the Train to legal argument, Brooks reminds us that among the powers of narrative is the power to deceive.

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681376639
Pages: 176
Publication Date:


A potent defense of attentive reading and its real-world applications.
—Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

Brooks spent most of his career trying to impress upon readers the particular power of narrative…In his most recent book, “Seduced by Story,” he describes the horrifying feeling of having succeeded all too well.
—Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker

A succinct account of narrative persuasion, offering a solid case for the ambivalent power that stories can have in shaping us as individuals and nations.
—Caterina Domeneghini, Los Angeles Review of Books

Brooks explores various fields – including psychoanalysis, legal practice and modern political discourse – in which the distinction between narrative and “reality” has been eroded, or even collapsed. . . . It is in this context that a critical faculty – the ability to understand and critique narrative – is of vital importance.
—Jonathan Taylor, TLS

Brooks built an influential career arguing that stories are key features of how we all experience ‘human temporality’ and strive to articulate ‘meaning in general.’ This new book is, therefore, a kind of personal as well as intellectual reckoning with narrative turns and what may be their less salubrious legacies.
—Killian Quigley, Australian Book Review

Society’s obsession with résumé, and its use to construct an aura of credibility, is such a pervasive element of contemporary life that it inevitably implicates even the author and his own field of “literary humanities.” But that dynamic is exactly what Brooks parses in his terrific critical survey: the essential differences between surface stories and the ways in which they’re constructed.
—J. Howard Rosier, New York Magazine/Vulture

A bracing and insightful look at the downsides of reducing everything to storytelling. . . A thoughtful and revelatory analysis of what’s lost when story trumps all.
Publishers Weekly

For writers, readers, and citizens of the story-addled world.
—Emily Temple, Lit Hub

A rhapsody to the partial suspension of disbelief that allows us to immerse ourselves in novels, but simultaneously and most crucially, a brilliant intervention against the complete suspension of disbelief that allows a citizenry to succumb to conspiracy theories, false-flag narratives, authoritarian fictions. An eloquent and triumphant culmination of Peter Brooks’s lifelong inquiry into the aesthetic and ethical intersection of literature, psychoanalysis, law, and politics. Impossibly good.
—David Shields

Stories are everywhere—shaping us, shocking us, showing us what really happened (or making it up). Peter Brooks invites us to step to one side of our over-storied surroundings to think about all the ways they work. . . . In the process, he tells a gripping tale of his own.
—Rachel Bowlby

This is an amazing book, crossing back and forth between literature and politics, illuminating each side by the other. It is written without fuss, continually evocative and surprising.
—Richard Sennett

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