The great story-tellers?

Well, I’ve taken this week “off”, so to speak, to finish writing my book. Yes, I do expect to send off the manuscript by the end of this week!

That won’t mean that it’s done, but it does mean that we will move on to the next stage, once my editor at Riverhead takes a look. And then I hope to get a publication date and … title! (Here is why the book doesn’t have one yet.) I’ll keep you posted, of course.

In the meantime, I thought our recent inquiry into the great thinkers of world history was fun. The whole thing was really just an excuse for me to think about what ideas had influenced me the most, and for you to point me to some thinkers that I might have been overlooking, which you did in the comments. Gödel, Salk …

In fact, it was so much fun that I’m thinking of starting new inquiries. Since my mission in life is to tell stories, perhaps a search for the world’s greatest story-teller ever?

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8 thoughts on “The great story-tellers?

  1. Congratulations on your manuscript and soon-to-be-titled book.
    Greatest story-teller is a good idea. I have my list of favorite author, favorite book and favorite story. None of these overlap and probably none is the Greatest.

    Is story-teller one word? Why not story teller or storyteller? I asked the Missus. Without looking up from her grading, she sez, “everything is one word these days.”

    I’ve been listening to books on CD a lot lately. The Chronicles of Narnia is read by Kenneth Branaugh, Patrick Stewart, Venessa Redgrave and Derick Jacoby, among others. These people are great at the telling of stories. You don’t mean that kind, do you?

  2. Tell the Missus that my reading of nowadays is that it should be spelled StoryTeller, or StrTllr. I’m extrapolating that from company and product names.

    If we do this, storyteller would mean more than just “writer”. Hitchcock. Bards. I have to think more about this. What is/is not a story, and how is a story well told? My ideas are vague right now, but that’s what you would expect from a storyteller….

  3. Congratulations on finishing your book. I hope your editor has few suggestions for change.

    I will wait and see how you answer Mr. Crotchety before I comment about the great story tellers…

    Cheers on the completion of your book!
    Now, you need to plant a tree. Should you want to get your hands dirty, we are putting in olive trees next year.

  4. Olive trees? Did you know that Hannibal, after he finally lost the decisive battle to Scipio in Africa, disappeared into an internal exile for several years in which the only thing we know about him is that he … planted olive trees?
    Eventually he came back from that midlife crisis, and everything went topsy-turvy…

  5. Congratulations on taking your book to the next step!

    With story-tellers more so than with thinkers, it seems hard to separate greatest from favorite.

    Greatest? Seems like you’d have to mention Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare (a nominee for the top spot), Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut.
    My favorites? JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman (yes, there’s a pattern…), Garrison Keillor, Ernest Hemingway.

    Storytelling is a very personal thing. I wonder if it’s possible to agree on the criteria. What about the greatest obscure storyteller? Greatest storyteller of his or her century? Some other possible avenues to explore…

    • Yes, good points. That’s a good list right there. I’m thinking of adding people like Ira Glass, the Brothers Grimm.

      I think you’re right that crowning somebody a “greatest storyteller” will be too silly this time. (It was sort of silly with the thinkers). So I will ponder how we can make this a mock contest that is fun nonetheless. The real point, of course, is to discover what makes stories well told.

  6. I agree that we must distinguish between one who tells stories and one who writes stories. Sometimes, the writer may tell her own stories, as we know.

    Several of my nominees for the Greatest Storyteller :

    1. Isaac Bashevis Singer (my favorite)
    2. Wallace Stegner
    3. Edgar Allen Poe (probably the best American story teller)
    4. Mark Twain.

    Word choice
    Story line

    How are those for a start?

  7. What about Murasaki Shikibu, author of ‘The Tale Of Genji’?

    As for the greatest obscure storyteller, the Indian epic ‘The Mahabharata’ is traditionally attributed to one man, Ved Vyas. However, historians believe that it is the composition of several people over hundreds of years, as it now exists in many versions and languages in different parts of the country (although the core of the story, a battle between two tribes, remains the same). So we have not one, but perhaps hundreds, or even thousands, of people telling one of the greatest stories ever, belonging to different centuries and ranging from charioteer bards to village storytellers!

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