”The Finest Story in the World” is an short story by Rudyard Kipling: This story was first published in the Contemporary Review of July 1891. It includes the poem ”Song of the Galley-slaves”.
The narrator meets a young bank clerk, Charlie Mears, who longs to be a writer and seeks his advice. Charlie seems a commonplace and not particularly imaginative young man, but - partly written and partly in conversation - he produces strangely powerful accounts of sea voyages in the ancient world, by a Viking adventurer on a voyage to America, and by a Greek galley slave. He gives vivid details, including fragments of script which turn out to be corrupt Greek. The narrator becomes convinced that - rather than creating these stories - Charlie is remembering past lives, and that it is such recollections that feed the mysterious processes of creative 'imagination'. Another friend, a sophisticated Bengali, Grish Chunder, confirms that this must be the case, but warns that when Charlie falls in love the threads from the past will be broken. - This is exactly what happens. Charlie meets a young woman, expresses his love in banal conventional verses, and loses interest in his 'tales' of the past.