Stories have been a part and parcel of mankind’s collective consciousness and social culture since the dawn of man’s awareness. They have served as guidelines and a means of ingraining and maintaining values, norms, mores and in innumerable cases defined the precepts for acceptable behavior for men, women and children within a community. Many of them are based in pre-history (myth) and history while still others are based on and are a reflection of contemporary civilization and yet others are set in distinctly futuristic time lines. Some are passed on for generations, becoming interwoven into the cultural fabric of a civilization; for example The ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’ epics of the sub-continent, define its cultural ethos as well as pathos.
Stories are mirrors that reflect human culture, and in turn cast their own reflection on human consciousness, activities and conscience. Indirectly, they lay the foundation on which the pillars of society are built. So powerful is a good story that it enraptures men, women and children alike, carrying us along in its wake. It’s not for nothing that the adage ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ came into being such being the complementary and impressionable influence of stories on the recordings and writings by ancient and medieval scribes, in any culture.
The characteristic of each story varies with the theme inherent in it. The tone of a story can be funny, serious, happy, sad, melancholic, witty, idiotic or replete with wisdom etc. A good, well knit story usually caters to and encapsulates the entire range of human emotions. A story might be original while another may be purely anecdotal and yet another, just an anecdote. Some might be flights of pure fancy while others more grounded in reality and the scheme of things. Some disappear in the mists of time while others leave their indelible imprint for all time. A story can even influence and shape the character of its reader, and thus one gets an idea as to how the proverbial saying, ‘A man’s character can be known by the books he reads’ came into being.
For much of cultural history, stories have been passed on as oral traditions or preserved in manuscripts and papyrus scrolls. After the 6th century A.D, they were replaced by codex. Come the mid-fifteenth century, the invention of the Gutenberg printing press by Johannes Gutenberg and subsequently the steam powered rotary press in the nineteenth-century, ensured the immortality of stories in the form of books and paperbacks.
The technological advancements of the twentieth century and the proliferation of publishing houses enabled the story to capture a person’s imagination like never before. Whereas, in the days of Yore, the story had to rely on word of mouth, stage and theater artists to reach a wider audience; now through the medium of books and paperbacks, it could reach a far greater and greatly dispersed humanity. As the spread and reach of stories increased, so did...