Throughout the novel Foster refers to the idea that “there is only one story,” and that all works of literature are part of this same enormous, universal narrative. Of course, Foster does not mean this in a literal sense. There is no actual story memorized or written down anywhere from which other pieces of literature are lifted. Rather, the idea of a single story emerges from the sense that, although people’s lives are infinitely varied, we all share a single human experience.
The concept of there being “one story” also helps to understand intertextuality. Although an author might not explicitly reference other literary works, the idea of the single story suggests that all texts are always in dialogue with one another. Readers must therefore search for clues of how this dialogue plays out in a text.
The One Story Quotes in How to Read Literature Like a Professor
There is only one story. Ever. One. It's always been going on and it's everywhere around us and every story you've ever read or heard or watched is part of it.
Don't bother looking for the originals, though. You can't find the archetype, just as you can't find the pure myths. What we have, even in our earliest recorded literature, are variants, embellishments, versions, what Frye called "displacement" of the myth.
We—as readers or writers, tellers or listeners—understand each other, we share knowledge of the structures of our myths, we comprehend the logic of symbols, largely because we have access to the same swirl of story.