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What is the greatest story ever told?
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! If you’re new to the series, the authors included are grateful for your reads and appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Be prepared to become a regular reader.
In my childhood, I could guarantee you that I knew the answer to this question. Maybe even a few short years ago, the greatest story ever told would have easily come to mind. Today, I am no longer so certain. The religious undertones of the question leave me squeamish besides. Ultimately, it is my hope that the greatest story ever told hasn’t actually been told yet. If it has, then there are a lot of writers endeavoring against futility.
The Hobbit was introduced to me at a very early age. In fact, my mother read the book and the Lord of the Rings series when she was pregnant for me. The tale of adversity is a romantic one that once filled me with hope of overcoming the odds. Age has taught me that overcoming odds is far more difficult and far less likely to result in success. That’s just the way of things. Perhaps, that should make the story even more powerful, because despite the unlikelihood of success, things worked out all right. Neither does the story shy from hardship and death. It’s all in there. But is it the greatest story ever told? Certainly it is for someone, but, although it once was for me and still holds a special seat in my list, it isn’t the greatest.
The reason being, the stories above follow a heroic arc that is similar to thousands of other stories, some told before it and some told after it. It’s a compelling series of books. I’m certain that Tolkien was the father of modern high fantasy. Yet, there is something so basic about blurting out any of the titles in the series that it just becomes so obvious that it falls short.
I’m sure there will be those who would answer the question with Harry Potter, Star Wars, or even The Bible. While Rowling’s series is seriously epic and all kinds of phenomenal, I’m not certain it is. Even being a huge Star Wars fan, I can’t back that George Lucas wrote the greatest story ever. No offense, George. I know The Bible isn’t because it’s a series of books written eons ago, manipulated through language translations by men of power, and advocates the worst of behaviors from humanity. It’s just an old epic poem, as important as the Iliad, but shouldn’t be used as a life guide. Again, I think either of these suggestions falls into the basic. They’re popular for whatever reasons, but I can’t overcome the notion that they don’t quit fit the bill. Rowling’s series may come close.
I’ve read so many books in my lifetimes; watched so many movies and television shows. Yet, here I am shrugging my shoulders.
One of my favorite films is What Dreams May Come (1998). Yes, it’s an adaptation. No, I haven’t read the book. Still, it is a story that has been told, even if my understanding of it is in visual art, not literary.
You might have read an earlier Open Book Blog Hop where I spoke about this film. “I have not had the privilege yet to read Matheson’s work, but it is well loved already by many fans: “a classic novel of love after death, from one our greatest fantasy writers” (Amazon Reviews). It asks, on the surface, one of the greatest questions to puzzle humanity, and is something I have been fascinated by throughout all of my studies. That preoccupation with a great beyond finally spilled over into my own fantasy/sci-fi series.”
The premise of the story is the lead character going after the love of his life to the depths of hell to bring her back to him after she’s committed suicide. The lead precedes his love into the next world after an accident. This is the third such traumatic death in the woman’s life. She lost their children in a terrible accident, too.
It’s a story about perseverance against the presumed laws of nature on basis of real love. It’s one thing to destroy a ring that can destroy your world, and another, probably more deep, though not self-less, thing to pursue your beloved into the rings of hell. The film jarred me, despite the basic ideas that form the basis of the narrative. One of those this rings true to me moments. No, I’m not a religious person, as I’ve said before. However, I don’t think we just shut our eyes one day and that is the end of it. It just doesn’t make sense that all this boils down eventually to fertilizer. That’s not my ego or desire to survive talking. The conclusion has come after years of reflection and experiences, including scientific theory. There is nothing in the universe that exists to no purpose, and the purpose isn’t mundane when the system is so complicated. And the law of entropy only applies to the laws of thermodynamics, so it has no place getting pinned on everything else. Don’t ask me why after thousands of years it’s still a mystery to us, but the depths of the oceans we live near aren’t any clearer to us either, and you can get your hands on that.
I’m still not convinced that it’s the greatest story ever told. Titles cascade through my mind and I’m just left reeling at all the possibilities, but nothing jumps to the fore.
I wonder what the other authors will have to say…