Story as Worm

E. M. Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, called sunrise in the tales of One Thousand and One Nights “the tape-worm by which they are tied together.”

He wrote that story “is the lowest and simplest of literary organisms. Yet it is the highest factor common to all the very complicated organisms known as novels.”

Also – “When we isolate the story like this from the nobler aspects through which it moves, and hold it out on the forceps – wriggling and interminable, the naked worm of time – it presents an appearance that is both unlovely and dull. But we have much to learn from it...”

A story is like a worm because it has twists and segments, is linear, and elastic, and comes from the depths.

A story has to be dug up. It's organic, slippery, and dirty. You drop one down a child's neck to see her shiver. They eat us in the end.

A story can also be used for bait. A worm is like a freelance throat, and can also be a dragon, as in A.S. Byatt's “A Thing in the Forest,” and as there are worms within worms, so are there stories within stories...

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