Whatever happened to books with titles like Capacity and Extent of Human Understanding; Exemplified in the Extraordinary Case of Automathes: A Young Nobleman; who was Accidentally left in his Infancy, upon a desolate Island, and continued Nineteen Years in that solitary State, separate from all Human Society. A Narrative abounding with many surprising Occurrences, both Useful and Entertaining to the Reader?
In Distant Reading, Franco Moretti doesn’t just show us when these titles faded away…
Finally, a solution for bibliophiles drowning under the weight of their own book purchases: don't read those voluminous tomes, feed them into a computer and make graphs instead! Heresy? This, according to literary scholar cum-statistician Franco Moretti, is the only way to grasp the immensity of world literature. William Gladstone claimed that one could read 22,000 books in a lifetime. But who has the time or shelf space? Luckily Moretti's Stanford Literary Lab is designed to solve such burning bookish anxieties. The New York Times had the following to say about Moretti's literary rebellions:
As its name suggests, the Lit Lab tackles literary problems by scientific means: hypothesis-testing, computational modeling, quantitative analysis. Similar efforts are currently proliferating under the broad rubric of "digital humanities," but Moretti's approach is among the more radical. He advocates what he terms "distant reading": understanding literature not by studying particular texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data.