We Have Only One Story

In the past I have heard it said that there exists but one story, that every book and movie is nothing more than retelling of that single plot. Perhaps most famously, John Steinbeck once said something to this effect in his book East of Eden:

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”

I’m not sure I wholly agree with this, but it is nevertheless a very interesting observation.