You may have already stumbled across it, but I thought I’d share this rad infographic from The Slow Journalism Company. Longlisters of the 2011 Booker Prize wrote about a lot of things, but all thirteen books nominated for the award involved death.
Think about your favorite novels and films. How many of them involve death? Why do you think stories involving death are so popular?
Personally, I think that the mystery of death itself is one that humanity is constantly processing. What does death mean? Is death a spiritual experience? Is it just physical? Or is it both? Where does the soul go from here? Is it permanent or temporary? How do we, the living, cope with the deaths of those we love, and even those we hate?
You’ll notice that the second most common theme is love, which, similar to death, we can spend our whole lives exploring and never fully understand.
I think that when we write and read fiction, we are able to process these themes in a manageable, compartmentalized way. We want to master mystery, and there are clearly defined boundaries in fiction that help us do this : beginning and end, protagonist and antagonist, right and wrong. The authors hold all the power, and readers, desperate to understand these things, turn the pages hoping that the author holds the answer they’ve been searching for. Fiction offers a level of control that we will never experience in life.
What about you? Why do you think themes of love and death are so recurrent in fiction? Do you agree or disagree with my theories? Share your thoughts here or on Joe’s post over on The Write Practice.
- (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
- (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
- (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
- (of BethanySuckrow.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.