Greatest American writers

American writers of the 20th century

Corpus description

This is a corpus of the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century British and American literature. It includes 53 books, further divided into 23 books of British writers (Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Joseph Rudyard Kipling, George Mac Donald, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf) and 24 books of American writers (George Washington Cable, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Dean Howells, Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain). The remaining 6 books belong to Henry James and are an interesting element in my analysis because of the fact that James is considered to be Anglo-American writer. The reason why I chose such corpus is that I wanted to compare British and American literature from the aforementioned period and see if there are any differences or similarities. An explanation of the choice of the texts is the fact that the books were easily found at “Project Gutenberg” website and are commonly known as their authors, which is a helpful factor when it comes to describe the results.

The authors selected for the project are well-known and they lived and wrote at a similar time. Therefore, I suppose to see some strong similarities especially between the writers from the turn of the century and also between those who wrote only in the 20th century. Moreover, I assume that the style of modernist writers (Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner) as well as the realist ones (George Washington Cable and William Dean Howells) will be displayed in some network of stronger similarities. I expect to see clear differences between American and British writers in one of my analyses. However, I could not predict the characteristic feature (either more American or more British tendencies) of James’ texts. Additionally, I expect to notice some similarities between Rudyard Kipling and George Mac Donald as they are both considered with children’s books. I am curious about the tendencies of James Joyce’s texts because he is associated with stream of consciousness method of writing and modernist avant-garde.

The list of all of the text that were analysed in this project can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1: British and American corpus

Author

Title

Publication date

George Washington Cable

Dr Sevier

1897

Grandissimes

1899

Kincaid’s Battery

1908

Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim

1900

Nostromo

1917

Under Western Eyes

1911

William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying

1930

Collected Stories

1950

The Unvanquished

1938

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Flappers and Philosophers

1920

Tales of the Jazz Age

1922

The beautiful and Damned

This Side of Paradise

Thomas Hardy

A Pair of Blue Eyes

Far from the Madding Crowd

The Hand of Ethelberta

1895

The Return of the Native

1912

Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms

1929

For Whom the Bell Tolls

1940

The First Forty-Nine

Stories

The Sun Also Rises

1926

William Dean Howells

A Hazard of New Fortunes

1909

Indian Summer

1886

Venetian Life

1867

Henry James

The Europeans

1878

The Portrait of a Lady

1881

The Turn of the Screw

1898

Washington square

1907

What Maisie Knew

James Joyce

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

1916

Dubliners

1914

Ulysses

Rudyard Kipling

Indian Tales

1937

Kim

1901

Plain tales from the Hills

1888

George MacDonald

At the back of the North Wind

1871

Sir Gibbie

1879

The Portent : A Story of the Inner Vision of the Highlanders

1864

Louisa May Alcott

An Old-Fashioned Girl

1869

Jack and Jill

1880

Rose in Bloom

1876

George Orwell

Animal Farm

1945

Down and Out in Paris and London

1933

Nighteen Eighty-Four

1949

Mark Twain

A Tramp Abroad

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1884 UK and Canada

1885 USA

Innocents abroad

What is a Man? and Other Essays

1906

Virginia Woolf

Jacob’s Room

Monday or Tuesday

1921

Night and Day

1919

The Voyage Out

1915 UK

1920 US

Method

The analyses were conducted with the help of R programme, which is a software commonly used for statistical computing and data analysis. The program enabled graphical representation of the data gathered in the corpus. In R program I was able to carry out cluster analysis, bootstrap consensus tree analysis and oppose analysis.

The first analysis- cluster analysis resulted in vertical dendogram in which I was able to investigate the relationship between the texts relying on the most frequent words used in the books. The bootstrap consensus tree analysis presented a network of the texts and marked their relationship by showing a “branches” of texts more or less similar on the basis of the most frequent words appearing in the books. However, the next analysis- oppose analysis provided a contrastive analysis between British and American writers testing James’ membership at the same time.

The last analysis was carried out in Gephi program, which constructs dynamic and hierarchical graphs and an interactive visualisation of various networks and complex systems. The data file was created in R and transferred to Gephi. The aim of this analysis was to display not only the nearest neighbours (as in the previous analyses) but also to show weaker connections with the use of colours and lines of different thickness.

Source: sites.google.com
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