From time to time we all tend to wonder what sort of 'story' our life might comprise: what it means, where it is going, and whether it hangs together as a whole. William Lowell Randall sets out to explore certain implications of the familiar metaphor, 'the story of my life,' and analyses its possible significance with respect to our self-understanding. In The Stories We Are he suggests our life's story may be our most important possession.
To examine life-as-story involves the enrichment of the psychological approach we usually take in looking at learning and growth with a poetic approach. Randall explores the links between literature and life and speculates on what may be called 'the range of story-telling styles' according to which people compose their lives, transform the events of their lives into experiences, and seek coherence amid the diversity of the inner world of the self. In doing so, he draws on a variety of fields, including psychology, psychotherapy, theology, philosophy, feminist theory, and literary theory.
Using categories like plot, character, point of view, and style, Randall plays with the possibility that we each make sense of the events of our lives to the extent that we weave them into our own unfolding novel, as simultaneously its author, narrator, main character, and reader - a novel we are continuously, sometimes consciously, re-storying. As a kind of 'poetics' of everyday life, he inquires into the narrative dimensions of our self-creation and the storied dynamics of our relationships with others, as members of the same family, community, or culture. In the process, he offers us a unique perspective on such features of our day-to-day world as secrecy, self-deception, gossip, prejudice, intimacy, maturity, and the proverbial 'art of living.'
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