Books: The Twice Told Tales

It is an age of ink, the black and white stories offered easily; the written word is seen in all forms, plastered across city stone and countryside corners. It cannot be refused. It cannot be denied. It is instead to be expected, with all learning of the world through lettering. But such a willing knowledge was not always available. It was instead siphoned through whispers, offered as fiction instead of fact. Literature (and truth) were shared beside the hearth, exchanged from one family to the next – with the endings rarely resembling their origins. Books were not common. They were not even considered.

And such a lack of consideration resulted in ever changing stories and lost certainty.

Oral literature was once the only form of telling tales. Scholars would recount all religious meanings and philosophic fables to the lower classes, letting them then take the metaphors for themselves; filtering them through misunderstandings and constant revision as they passed them to their friends. Small stories grew to mighty epics. Tragedies became romances. And comedy shifted from bawdy words to sharp satire and back again. It was a prominence of ballads and provincial editing.

And it simply was not enough.

The reliance of oral literature saw the change of all stories; with personal opinions injected within each word. There was no certainty beyond change – and this forced a loss of original meanings. The purpose of an allegory was suddenly stripped of its power and made into a simple farce.

And through this came the need of books: words that would not be redefined again and again. They would instead be placed on parchment and made into permanencies. The concept of literature (as we understand it today) was formed.

There can be no denying the power of performances, the stirring renditions oral history can bring. But those renditions are too often revised, made new and unintended. They must instead be secured in pages and books.

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