Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve by Ben Blatt

What can understand about literature through numbers? Quite a bit, it turns . 1963, for example, statisticians Frederick Mosteller David Wallace settled a long-standing historical debate, using statistical techniques ascribe authorship 12 essays from The Federalist Papers James Madison, rather than Alexander Hamilton ( also claimed have written them) . With a convincing analysis the two writers’ go- connective phrases, Mosteller and Wallace solved a literary problem, simply by counting. Recently, a growing body of literary criticism has deployed statistical methods, mapping tools, and innovative graphics reveal patterns in literature. These methods—what literary critic Franco Moretti dubbed “distant reading”—are not universally celebrated. Quantitative approaches tend ruffle critics who prize “close reading,” or intensive analysis of small selections of text, a practice that continues center literary studies. Imaginative attention the particularities of a literary text falls the wayside when zoom out to look at broader, statistical patterns. Literature’s transformative powers get swallowed by numbers. Or so the argument goes. argument isn’t entirely wrong. But accepting it wholesale would be a great loss for anyone who cares about literature. Distant reading has been around for a […]

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