Philippe Collard

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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The history of story telling. Prologue

The history of story telling. Prologue

[Note: this is a multiple parts essay. I will publish the next parts when I actually feel like it or have come up with something that I believe is worth publishing…I therefore use BeBee as my own personal notebook, one that I dare share with you all..]

One thing that distinguishes us, humans, from animals is storytelling. From Homer’s recounting the tales of Ulysses to listening to your wife’s account of how her day went, we spend, have spent and will continue to spend, vast amounts of time listening to or telling stories.

This fact recently, and may be naively, dawned on me a few days ago. Stories all embody two central elements of humanity: the notion of time (what has already happened and what has yet to happen) and the desire to share (by telling or being told). I felt like Mr. Jourdain in Moliere’s comedy “Le bourgeois gentilhomme” who had said prose all of his life without ever realizing it. So I decided to dig further and deeper and compose this modest essay (in several instalments), an ode to storytelling throughout the ages.

Before we embark on this fascinating journey, I want to tell you…a story! I am sure like most parents you have tried to put your children to sleep by reading them from a book. I can remember sitting by my beautiful daughter’s bed and reading her passages of the…Hobbit (by J.R.R. Tolkien…if you don’t know who he is and what he wrote, shame on you!

I am not quite sure what convoluted twists of thinking once convinced me that you could put a child to sleep by reading a book full of dragons, orcs and trolls. That analysis is for another essay, I suppose…

But suffice to say, I did make that decision. And she seemed to enjoy it. Obviously my ultimate aim was to put her to sleep. Therefore I would slow down the pace, making the words ever heavier, lowering the tone of my voice, as if to say “sleep my little angel, go to sleep”. Silence. That moment when you are about to close the book, and leave the room with a last loving look at your progeny. Then, Camille would utter a single word: “Continue!” Very matter of fact. “OK you got my attention, I really like what I hear, and I am interested about what’s going to happen next”. CONTINUE! Not an injunction. A soft request. “Please continue”. One request you certainly cannot turn down.

From these tender nights until today and until I am no longer able to walk this earth, the word “story” will always be associated, in my mind, with the word “continue”, the plea from a 5 years old child in the darkness of her room, listening to her father trying to put her to sleep with tales of gremlins. Continue!

Let us begin!

If you google the word “story”, lots of definition are provided to you. But here is my favorite (and the one I believe to be most accurate):

“A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader”

We may want to make a note to ourselves: some thing(s) seem(s) to be missing? What about pictures? What about paintings? What about movies? What about music? But that being said, it pretty much encompasses what comes to our minds when we are confronted with the word “story” as in “let me tell you a story”. Let us begin with a question: Can you imagine the first story that was every told? [To be continued :-)]

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Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #2

Look forward to your next installment Philippe Collard, you have me interested!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #1

Good start, Philippe Collard. I'll repost this.

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