Peter Brooks’ “Seduced by Story: The Use and Abuse of Narrative”

November 11, 2022

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Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by literary critic and scholar Peter Brooks. Brooks is the Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus at Yale. He is the author of many books but perhaps most notably of Reading for the Plot, originally published in 1984, which initiated the narrative turn in literary criticism. In it, Brooks focused on the story, how it was told and how it moved forward. His latest book Seduced by Story: The Use and Abuse of Narrative returns to narrative as its main subject, 30 years later. Brooks now finds narrative everywhere — from President Bush invoking the “stories” of all of his cabinet members to corporate websites touting the company “story.” What does this narrative takeover mean? Why have we started to privilege storytelling over any other form of expression? Brooks writes “This…suggests something in our culture has gone astray.” Peter Brooks joins us to discuss, as he puts it, “the misuses, and mindless uses, of narrative.”

Also, Darryl Pinckney, author of Come Back in September, returns to recommend three books: Elizabeth Hardwick’s Seduction and Betrayal; Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System; and Marina Warner’s Esmond and Ilia.