Part 13: A majority of the value in storytelling relies on the interest of the listener to be involved with the story they are being told to then retain it and re-tell the story. Part 14/15: Benjamin explains that with the act of storytelling, the individual telling the story has the companionship of the individual listening, compared to the individual reading a novel who is isolated. The experience of reading a novel is solitary. “Memory creates the chain of tradition which passes a happening on from generation to generation” (Part 14, pg. 98 of reader) o Question 1: What aspects of storytelling have been lost over time that has led to its demise according to Benjamin?
o Question 2: What about the loss of exposure to death in modern society has helped lead to a decline of impact in storytelling and their morals? (Less “fear” of death or even prominence of death in society gives stories’ lessons less impact???) o Section B: o Main arguments: People have lost the ability to tell stories well; storytelling is a dying tradition because we are unable to exchange experiences well like we used to. o Also, the “best” stories according to Benjamin are those that are most similar to the oral tales told by “the many nameless storytellers” o Section 4: storytelling is a communicative and practical form that provides counsel. It doesn’t provide a definite answer, but a broader moral o Section 5’s point: Benjamin feels that novels can contribute nothing to the oral tradition and their emergence led to the decline of the art of storytelling (oral tradition). o Question 1: How does Bejamin’s opinion of the novel relate to his argument about the decline/death of storytelling? o Question 2: Why does the ‘dissemination of information” not benefit storytelling? o Question 3: Who is Leskov and why does Benjamin write about him? o Question 4: What does Benjamin think the difference in impact is between information based/factual texts and stories? info based not compatible with story. fact has to be true or possible, absorb fact and move on story full of spirit, leave things open ended, reader can interact or react to a story, story is to experience o SUMMARY: Walter Benjamin is basically valorizing the storytelling tradition (oral) over modern discursive forms of communication. It would be good to think about this in terms of oral tradition vs literary to look at the tradition of the forms. He critiques modern forms of communication such as information/informative texts and the novel. He argues that information just needs to seem plausible/valid---even if it is not---and is readily accepted. We don’t question or take time to think about information. The novel is based on an individual author and is experienced individually. Stories are shared experiences. Stories are chains, linking each storyteller that has passed it down to the story being told. They have practicality, are “counseling” with a broad moral, and are more memorable because stories aren’t exactly explained like information is. Stories are open to interpretation, and he argues that this adds to the experience, memory, and practical value. But this doesn’t
- Summer '19
- Fairy tale, Ali Baba, King Shahryar