Monday, October 19, 2015

New Book: The Fairytale and Plot Structure by Terence Patrick Murphy

The Fairytale and Plot Structure by Terence Patrick Murphy was released this fall. I'll let the book description and contents say the rest. Look at all those fun tales discussed in the book, though. We get two different Cinderellas and two different Bluebeards, too. How weird am I that the contents make me smile?

Book description:

From the time of the Classical era of Greece and Rome, literary theorists have been concerned with the subject of how the plots of stories are organized. In The Poetics, Aristotle put forward the crucial idea that a plot must possess sufficient amplitude to allow a probable or necessary succession of particular actions to produce a significant change in the fortune of the main character. In the early twentieth century, the Russian scholar Vladimir Propp put forward the radical idea that each of the plots in his corpus of a hundred Russian fairy tales consisted of a sequence of 31 functions executed in an identical order. In this way, Propp had provided a workable solution to the mystery of how that 'significant change in the fortune of the main character' might be brought about. In effect, what Propp had done was to discover the first plot genotype, the functional structure or compositional schema of a particular short fiction, the Marriage fairy tale. But Propp was mistaken in his belief that all plots were the same. Although the exact number of plot genotypes is still unclear, this number is not excessively great. Plot genotypes fall into set categories, which means that the analysis of a few important fairy tales will shed light on the way in which most fairy tales - and by extension most short stories and dramatic texts and Hollywood screenplays - are also organized. This study explores the plots of ten fairy tales to lay the foundations for a complete description of the plot genotype.

About the Author
Terence Patrick Murphy is Full Professor of Rhetoric and Composition in the English Department at Yonsei University, South Korea. He was educated at the University of Toronto and Merton College, Oxford, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the history of the little magazine in England. He has published essays in such journals as the Journal of Narrative Technique; Narrative; Language and Literature and Style. His major research interest is the stylistics of the plot in short fiction and film screenplays.


List of Boxes ix
Preface xiii
Acknowledgements xvi
About the Author xviii
Note on the Selection of the Texts xix
1 The Origins of Plot Analysis 1
2 Character Theory: From Aristotle to
the Cambridge Ritualists 13
3 Plot Structure: From Aristotle to the Cambridge Ritualists 22
4 From Veselovskian Motif to Proppian Function 29
5 A Proppian Analysis of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella 34
6 False and Real Sequences in Ashputtel 51
7 The Robber Bridegroom: The Limits of Propp’s Analysis 65
8 Fitcher’s Bird: A Second Horrific Fairytale Genotype 83
9 The Frog Prince: The Doubled Pivotal Eighth Function 93
10 Beauty and the Beast: The Irresolute Nineteenth
Plot Function 104
11 Puss- in- Boots: The Character of the Angelic Double 118
12 Tom- Tit- Tot: The Character of the Diabolic Double 129
13 Jack and the Beanstalk: The Hero’s Journey 141
14 Little Red Riding Hood: The Defeat of the Heroine in
the Struggle 150
15 The Story of the Three Bears: A Very Short Fairytale 157
16 Conclusion 161
Appendix 1: The Formal Representation of The Fox and
the Crow 177
Notes 181
Bibliography 193
Index 199

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