Distant Reading

Distant Reading

by Franco Moretti
     
 

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WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD 

How does a literary historian end up thinking in terms of z-scores, principal component analysis, and clustering coefficients? The essays in Distant Reading led to a new and often contested paradigm of literary analysis. In presenting them here Franco Moretti reconstructs his intellectualSee more details below

Overview

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD 

How does a literary historian end up thinking in terms of z-scores, principal component analysis, and clustering coefficients? The essays in Distant Reading led to a new and often contested paradigm of literary analysis. In presenting them here Franco Moretti reconstructs his intellectual trajectory, the theoretical influences over his work, and explores the polemics that have often developed around his positions.

From the evolutionary model of “Modern European Literature,” through the geo-cultural insights of “Conjectures of World Literature” and “Planet Hollywood,” to the quantitative findings of “Style, inc.” and the abstract patterns of “Network Theory, Plot Analysis,” the book follows two decades of conceptual development, organizing them around the metaphor of “distant reading,” that has come to define—well beyond the wildest expectations of its author—a growing field of unorthodox literary studies.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the 10 linked essays in this collection, Moretti (Signs Taken for Wonders)—a literary historian and the director of Stanford University’s Literary Lab—fearlessly, often gleefully, challenges entrenched conceptions about world cultures and arts. In “Modern European Literature: A Geographical Sketch,” he disputes the notion of a literature that reflects “a European ‘essence,’” arguing instead that European literature comprises “national (and regional) entities, clearly different, and often hostile to each other,” bound in a relationship of “productive enmity.” In its companion piece, “Conjectures on World Literature,” he similarly explodes the notion of a single contemporary literature that accommodates the writing of all nations, pointing out how the rise of the modern novel in non-Western countries often shows “a compromise between a Western formal influence... and local materials” (i.e., the social context of the nation in question). Some of the essays are fancy packages for obvious insights, among them “Planet Hollywood,” whose study of the popularity of American films in non-American markets will surprise no one with its revelation that action films cross national borders more easily than comedies, because the action films replace language and words with “sheer noise”—“explosions, crashes, gunshots, screams”—that all cultures understand. Regardless of whether readers agree with Moretti’s conclusions, they will find that his application of economic theory, network theory, and evolutionary models to literature and culture shows these subjects from fresh and often provocative new perspectives. (June)
From the Publisher
"One of the most daring and intellectually exciting books of the year."—Washington Post

“The great iconoclast of literary criticism.”—John Sutherland, Guardian

“It’s a rare literary critic who attracts so much public attention, and there’s a good reason: few are as hellbent on rethinking the way we talk about literature.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Moretti, a mythopoeic figure, generates around himself a dense network of folklore and apocrypha.”—n+1

“Moretti is already famous in bookish circles for his data-centric approach to novels, which he graphs, maps, and charts ... if his new methods catch on, they could change the way we look at literary history.”—Wired

“Distant reading might prove to be a powerful tool for studying literature.”—New York Times

Guardian
The great iconoclast of literary criticism.— John Sutherland
n+1
“Moretti, a mythopoeic figure, generates around himself a dense network of folklore and apocrypha.”
Times Literary Supplement
“It’s a rare literary critic who attracts so much public attention, and there’s a good reason: few are as hellbent on rethinking the way we talk about literature.”
Wired
“Moretti is already famous in bookish circles for his data-centric approach to novels, which he graphs, maps, and charts ... if his new methods catch on, they could change the way we look at literary history.”
New York Times
“Distant reading might prove to be a powerful tool for studying literature.”
John Sutherland - Guardian
“The great iconoclast of literary criticism.”
Guardian - John Sutherland
“The great iconoclast of literary criticism.”
Time Magazines Literary Supplement
“It’s a rare literary critic who attracts so much public attention, and there’s a good reason: few are as hellbent on rethinking the way we talk about literature.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781781683330
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
813,370
File size:
3 MB

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