Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681376639
Pages: 176
Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Seduced by Story

by Peter Brooks

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“‘There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it.’ Thus spake Tyrion in the final episode of Game of Thrones, claiming the throne for Bran the Broken. Many viewers liked neither the choice of king nor its rationale. But the claim that story brings you to world dominance seems by now so banal that it’s common wisdom. Narrative seems to have become accepted as the one and only form of knowledge and speech that regulates human affairs.”

So begins the scholar and literary critic Peter Brooks's reckoning with today's flourishing cult of story. Forty years after Brooks published his seminal work Reading for the Plot, his own important contribution to what came to be known as the “narrative turn” in contemporary criticism and philosophy, he returns to question the unquestioning fashion in which story is now embraced as excuse or explanation and the fact that every brand or politician comes equipped with one. In a discussion that ranges from Gone Girl to legal argument, to the power storytellers exercise over their audiences, to what it means for readers and listeners to project themselves imaginatively into fictional characters, Brooks reminds us that among the powers of narrative is the power to deceive. Precisely because story does command our attention so, we must be skeptical of it and cultivate ways of thinking about our world and ourselves that run counter to our penchant for a good story.