We have much discussion this week about sense, imagination, realism and subtlety.
I find the phrase “story setting” to mean the groundwork of the tale, the landscape from which the story unfolds. The power of a story in part depends on how much vibrancy the setting has, not just in terms of the senses, but in how much life it holds.
For me, the setting of the story depends on how many other stories this setting can hold.
And ultimately, a story is limited only by the humanity involved. For every story ever told contains some truth. As Chesterton said, “A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author”.
So what settings have a million potential stories lurking in the recesses of each alcove and inlet?
What setting allows for the most important dramas of the human experience to be told?
Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.
As traveled by Dante and recounted in his Commedia.
These realms are far enough from our own to allow the reader some perspective and room for thought, but also so close to truths that we know in our deepest hearts that it touches us profoundly.
It is filled with concerns of mortality, and yet removed from them in such a way that it opens those concerns to us, those still existing on the physical plane.
It is the most deeply human of all stories, and still it contain as yet untold stories; tragedies, dramas, romances, and true love stories. The Commedia has it all, but only whets the appetite. I want to know more about all these souls! I want to stay longer in Heaven!
And of course, it is the setting that brings the story most fully into the life of each reader.