The Origin Of Stories – Meta-Review

Before I review reading the content of Brian Boyd On the Origin Of Stories, a few words on the style and structure of the book itself.

There are 540 pages of which 130 are notes, bibliography and index. The 410 pages of text contain only index numbers for the notes, individual references to some of the source names, but almost no discussion of those or their arguments. The notes themselves refer to the specific sources by author surname and date and you need to further cross refer to the bibliography to see exactly who and which published work.

The consequence is that the style of the book itself is a narrative of statements / assertions, with explanatory hows, whys and wherefores simply stated without discussion – references in the text being simply the index of end notes.  This means it is very dense – packed with “factual” information on its subject matter, the evolution of cognition, art, narrative and fiction.

The opposite feature is that if you want to study and analyse the arguments and orginal sources, it is meticulously referenced, but it requires equally pains-taking effort to follow-up. It does therefore make it near impossible to both read it and study it at the same time.

So, I am reading it, after browsing the references for a general picture … all the expected bio, mind & lingustic evolutionary writers E.O.Wilson, D.S.Wilson, Dennett, Pinker, Dawkins, Gould, Lewontin, Chomsky, Baron-Cohen, Barthes, as well as many more in the spheres of art and literature. Fascinating.

[Incidentally, Denis Dutton The Art Instinct – which I also have to read – refers and is referred to and shares a great number of the same references.]

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