Telling Stories

11 Feb

It is tempting to think that the storyteller has all the power, that we tell or author or construct or manufacture stories.  It is tempting to think that this power is one directional.  Rebecca Solnit suggests that it is not:

“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.”

In essence, Solnit is suggesting that stories themselves are imbued with a particular power – a power that can illuminate and obscure, resurrect and rebury, ignite and deflate.  The power is that of persuasion, of emotion, of transformation and of transportation.  Yet, to merely recognise this power is insufficient.  Solnit suggests that we must become active listeners, critical listeners.  She suggests we must question and query and interrogate until, informed and empowered, we can then reimagine stories as our own, infusing new perspectives and new understandings.

It seems to me that these principles are vital for students to understand as part of the Narratives that Shape Our World module in Year 11 Advanced English.  Indeed, it seems that these principles offer a partial response – at least – to the imperative to recreate, revisit and reimagine the narratives that have come before.

 

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