Stories Within Stories and The Rings of Saturn

The craft class I took this semester taught by Rick Moody was called “Ancient Forms”, and we’ve read literature from Homer to Cervantes. One of the themes of the class was how, at the beginning, all genres were one: a poem was a novel was a philosophical treatise was a history, and only as time went on did the forms and genres start to become differentiated.

Another theme we found is the prevalence of nested stories in early literature. A digression was not something to be feared, but something to be enjoyed in its own right. Originality of the whole story was not a key aim, so the artistry of the teller came in the quality of digressions and the way the story was told. Many of the works we read contained stories within stories within stories, which can be deadly boring in a work of modern literature, while in the works we read like

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1 Comment

  1. What a fine piece on how supposed digressions can actually become the story, if handled artfully with compelling prose. Your examples made me want to read some of the primary sources you cite.

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