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The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations (Georges Polti) [Paperback]

Our Price $ 15.48  
Item Number 356413  
Buy New $15.48

Item Specifications...

Pages   204
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.25" Width: 7.5" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.79 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 6, 2007
Publisher   Book Jungle
ISBN  160424111X  
EAN  9781604241112  

Availability  69 units.
Availability accurate as of May 27, 2017 08:06.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
The prefaces of many books are more enduring than the letter-press they introduce. It is as if an author's after-thoughts more nearly express his real thoughts than his well-considered, neatly planned succession of chapters. The reason for this, though a natural one, came to me only as I read and re-read the proofs of "The Thirty-six Dramatic Situations" as an author's work is unrolled before him in the type of the galley-proofs, the first sight of the printed words induces a freshness of mind that is near relative to the fine frenzy of first conception; added to this mental freshness there is a maturity-for are not months of thought behind the chapters of the work?-that makes the author's thoughts as grandparents with the enthusiasms of youth. In the prefaces, then, the authors find outlets to express their own reactions to their own thoughts.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Know What's Inside  Feb 15, 2007
This text comes highly recommended as a classic by far too many creative writing and screenwriting teachers.

Want to know if this book is for you? Read this passage:

"In the second, by means of a contraction analogous to that which abbreviates a syllogism to an enthymeme, this undecided power is but an attribute of the persecutor himself."

The entire book reads this way, so if that works for ya, you'll love this book. If it doesn't, you'll need to look elsewhere.
A Useful Reference  Jan 13, 2007
I don't quite understand how Polti came to classify the plots in this book the way he did. It made little sense to me. Nevertheless, I do see it as a useful reference for writers stuck for ideas. For my own part, I was able to think of some ideas which Polti did not seem to cover, even when I thought of his classifications as 'general categories', umbrellas under which every conceivable plot could fall.
Don't take the red pill Neo! This is the pool of Siloam.  Jan 2, 2007
If you wish to remain in that happy blissful world of suspended disbelief, where fairy stories continue to charm and inspire, and heroes are held sacred, then by all means never read this book.

"He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing." Gospel of John: 9: 6-7.

The intended audience of this work: the permanently cynical (me), writers, and English Literature undergraduates. For undergrads: after mentioning Foucault you quote Polti's structural plot diagnostic in some obfuscated sentence in about your third paragraph of any lit paper and you're on your way to graduating with honors. Heck, you professor won't even read any further and just slap an "A" on the darn thing. For writers: if you are stuck, reading this will send you screaming back to your alphanumeric clavichord faster than a Mustang with a tank full of white lightening and jet fuel.

One of the horrible things about reviewing is you start to think about what you've seen and read. Given man's continued Aristotelian imperative to classify, we also begin to classify written and visual literature. Soon this is distilled to an essence, and soon you read the essence instead of the story. Or the familiar story is re-written in a disguised way, and with such excellent selection of language, you don't care.

Georges Polti made things even worse than Aristotle did, and now there are no new stories under the sun. Instead of a Novel-O-Matic or "Mad-Lib: The Novel" we have Polti's "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations." Read this and you need never read again, but will always just flip to this most essential of the "Master Plots."

Why 36? Why not. Nice factoring on that handy number, sounds plausible, and didn't Jesus die at 36 years old? Or was it 33? Aren't there "Form Critics" and deconstructionists who hold the Gospels out to be the first novels? Polti hesitates not.
Excellent -- yet not what it's cracked up to be  Jun 18, 2006
This book is famous mostly among people who have only heard of it. People who have actually read it are less gushy with their praise.

Most folks think of this as a book of all the different plots and their variations. But personally, I prefer to look at the title itself, which speaks not of "plots" but of "dramatic situations".

Picture a story as if it were a play. When the curtain rises, the actors are all on stage and frozen in a tableau that displays their roles and inter-relationships. It is Polti's contention that these tableaus, or "dramatic situations", amount to no more than 36 in number.

How does this differ from 36 plots? Well, there may be only a limited number of relationships among the characters when the curtain first rises, but there are a zillion different ways in which those relationships can play themselves out. In Polti's sub-headings he goes through a wide range of different variations.

So if you're looking for a one-size-fits-all set of plotlines so that you can write your blockbuster, forget it. If you want a densely written analysis of the 36 Dramatic Situations, this is your book. The book will help writers think about their craft, but it's still not as simple as people make it sound when they describe the book over a beer.

One problem that I ran into was Polti's era and nationality. He was a Frenchman writing almost a hundred years ago. As a result, his voluminous notations describing a plethora of literary examples was mainly lost on me. Unless you're an expert on 19th Century French theatre, you may find yourself in the same boat.

My bottom line: this is a good book. I'm glad I've got it and I occasionaslly pull it off the shelf and re-read sections. But is it a masterpiece, the Holy Grail of plot-writers? No.
Not what I was looking for.  Mar 11, 2006
An explanation of each dramatic situation would have been helpful. However, the author only gives a list of works that a situation can be found in. The book was not what I was looking for. I wanted something to help me write conflict and plot. Maybe it would be helpful if I shifted through the massive reading list the author provides. Over all, I was not satisfied with this.

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