Don’t gloat about reading Ulysses: all books follow the same six storylines, researchers find –

There may once have been cachet in ploughing one’s way through Ulysses, War and Peace or Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

But according to one study, there is no greater cause to boast about reading James Joyce than EL James.

All novels contain one of just six possible plots, with similar emotional arcs running though every work from the highbrow to the bodice-ripper, according to researchers. 

They include the classic ‘rags to riches’ storyline, as detailed in Oliver Twist, the ‘riches to rags’ such as King Lear, and ‘man in a hole’ such as Moby Dick where a protagonist finds himself in a difficult spot before navigating out of it. 

The ‘Icarus’ plotline sees characters rise before a spectacular fall, ‘Cinderella’ shows the character’s fortunes rise, fall, then rise again and ‘Oedipus’ when the character falls, rises and then falls.


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