Chapter 4: The Narrative Essay



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Chapter 4: The Narrative Essay


Copyright © 2011





Narration is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction.






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The oldest form of communication, having roots in human history long before the written word, is storytelling. We may be from different countries of origin, of different races, religions, or ethnic groups, but we are all human, and we are all storytellers. Our *hunter-gatherer ancestors spent their evenings, and many dark and lonely nights, around the protective and warming flames of a campfire, telling stories. People told stories about adventures, both great and small – hunting the great woolly mammoth or finding a new medicinal herb, for example. Stories were told by the elderly, who were keepers of the clan’s memory. These stories about generations past and origin myths informed and amazed their listeners. They told these stories that had once been told to them when they were young and repeated down through many generations. Today, our storytelling takes place with friends meeting after class, with family sitting around the dinner table, not so different from the campfires of our ancestors. We also tell stories using written communication with the computer. Still, the goal is the same: to entertain and inform through storytelling, or what is formally called the Narrative Essay—writing that tells a story.


*Hunter-gatherer describes human beings who obtain their food from the bounty of nature, hunting animals and gathering wild plants. It is a subsistence lifestyle, practiced by all early human societies. Such people are generally nomads, moving on as food supplies dwindle. Archaeological evidence to date suggests that all human beings were hunter-gatherers prior to twelve thousand years ago, before the Neolithic Era. The Neolithic revolution…marks the emergence of agriculture and domestication of animals and the subsequent decline of hunter-gatherer populations.

New World Encyclopedia http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hunter-gatherer



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