Walter Benjamin, a German-Jewish critic, and philosopher overpraised the art of storytelling and its value more than anything. At the same time, he conveys his greatest disappointments by saying that with the passage of time, our distance from the storyteller is increasing, and the art of storytelling is coming to an end.
Walter Benjamin, as a modernist writer, has a tendency to analyze the modern issue in older debates. In “The Storyteller” essay, he states modern situations like how the war, technological revolution(press), and the rise of “new information” are seizing past phenomena and wisdom. According to him, telling stories is a craft that is vanishing as the changes like industrialization and other in the society is taking place so rapidly that experience from the past has no effect on the present. Storytelling stems from experience. He quotes a German saying,” When someone goes on a trip, he has something to tell about.” To clarify this maxim, he points out that people enjoy stories from a man who has seen and experienced many things rather than a man who stays home leading an honest living. He glorifies the storytellers because they have counsel for their readers, and the counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. He shows his dissatisfaction with modern society as they regard having counsel as old-fashioned and also indicates the reason for this is the decrease of communicability of experience. He criticizes and also says that, except for storytelling, another genre like novels depends only on information based on books, not on wisdom. The novelist himself is uncounseled and can not counsel others. I sincerely oppose this statement. The novelists also are counseled and can counsel others. Everything like the place, people, life, birds, sky, weather, dialogues, history, culture, philosophy, and poetry, that creates emotions can tell stories. All these things are interconnected. For example, the essay “Rajbondir Jobanbondi” by Kazi Nazrul tells the story of a jailbird, derives emotions, and has the potential to absorb an audience.
On the other hand, Robindranath’s “Sesher Kobita” shows us life experiences, life stories, poetry, prose, and witty dialogues, and these are not “information” but the wisdom of the novelist. This shows that literature is the essence of the story. It also gives the right to the audience to interpret the story’s psychological terms according to their perspective. It does not inject any pressure or make them memorize information about protagonists or novelists. However, according to Benjamin, storytelling is only a skilled form of communication that directly does not convey information; instead, it lets the readers interpret the message according to their understanding, making its appearance unique. He specifically mentions the rise of information because of the availability of the newspaper or printing press surrounding us with enormous information, which is scary because no one knows what type of new information may appear, and it may harm the spirit of storytelling. However, this availability actually has helped people to spread knowledge and wisdom all over the world.
Finally, we can say that The storyteller essay is one of the finest essays by Benjamin, demonstrating his outstanding choice of words and intelligence though his idea is quite biased. This essay officiates the modern way of writing, which is a great article to read.