A Short History of Story

Noah Richler traces the development of storytelling from the earliest creation myths through to today’s online gaming and the recording of our personal lives by way of social media.

In the first programme he shows how creation myths and cautionary tales were created to explain humans’ place in the world, and how we should conduct ourselves in it. And when groups came into contact with each other, myths and epics were invented which showed how they might deal with the threats and danger that sprang from conflict. The arrival of the novel he argues came at a time when society felt less threatened and so could explore the highways and byways of living our lives.

The second programme looks at how creation myths and epics in the 21st Century continue to be part of our experience of storytelling, and that through computer games and social media people assume different identities – hero, villain, warrior, and peacemaker. The series ends with the thought that perhaps we humans are the servant of the story, the vessel through which story lives, and it’s the survival of ‘story’ that is paramount.