New York Magazine

The History of Plot

Let’s start from the beginning (the Western beginning, anyway).

B.K.

PREHISTORY TO 500 BCE: The Creation Story (the Hebrew Bible, Sumerian tablets). How we first started to explain the world, relying mostly on supernatural explanations. 2100–400 BCE: The Epic Poem (the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad). Episodic narratives in which the gods interact with people, with man at the center of the story. 500–400 BCE: Classical Tragedy (The Oresteia, Oedipus the King, Medea). Murder, incest, revenge, and the tragic flaw. Aristotle wrote in Poetics that they ideally preserved “the three unities”—of action (one

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from New York Magazine

New York Magazine2 min readPop Culture
Have Flute, Will Rock
THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS: THE RISE AND FALL OF PROG ROCK will be published on June 13 by W. W. Norton & Company. CHARACTERIZED BY VIRTUOSIC instrumental passages, high-blown lyrics, and fantastical imagery, prog rock achieved massive success in the
New York Magazine3 min read
Further Notes of a Recycled Housewife
A mostly happy ending Forty-five years ago, New York published a cover story by Jennifer Skolnik called “Notes of a Recycled Housewife.” The magazine’s cover described “The Suburban Housewife Who Bought the Promises of Women’s Lib and Came to the Cit
New York Magazine4 min read
The Birth and Rebirth of Memphis
1977: Ettore Sottsass, the designer known up until this point for his red Olivetti Valentine typewriter, spots a geometric ceramic teapot in Wet magazine and tells his partners Aldo Cibic and Matteo Thun to ask the pot’s designer, Peter Shire, to col