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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Literary Spectrometry

This has truly been the annus mirabilissimus at the EDSRF. In less than six months we had announced three astonishing innovations: the Sushing scale of celebrity; the Extensible Literary Mark-up Language (XLML); and Didactic Gradualism. And already we are announcing a fourth: literary spectrometry, a new science that will revolutionise the sale of literary fiction.
As cultured polymaths my readers will be au fait with the established forms of spectrometry: you will know especially, for example, how optical spectrometry may be used to identify the composition of materials by measuring the specific combinations of frequencies at which light is emitted, absorbed, or scattered, by the substance under observation. For me, the person who played such a major role in transforming the basic ideas of optical spectrometry to branches of physics such as reverse quantum dichotics, it was a natural instinct to extend the concept into other fields entirely, and even more natural that my chosen field should be literature.
The principles of literary spectrometry could not be more simple to understand, nor more awesome to appreciate. In brief, literary spectrometry reveals the nature of literary work by subjecting it to various forms of frequency analysis. The spectra that have so-far been experimentally investigated at the EDSRF include:

Word length, measured in characters.
Sentence length, measured in words.
Paragraph length, measured in words.
Chapter length, measured in words.

The examples below are the sentence length spectra of, respectively, War and Peace and The DaVinci Code. Note in the War and Peace spectrum the isolated spike at 18 words, which is virtually a fingerprint of the great Russian author, appearing to some extent in all his known works.

The preliminary findings are remarkable. They have shown a direct correlation between the quality of the written work and the characteristics of their spectra; and they have included correct predictions of the winners of all the major literary awards in 2013. Shortly we will be revealing the results of our most recent work, which has been to analyse the frequency of occurrence of certain figures of speech. Those results are pending peer review within the academic literary community, but the appropriate bribes and sweeteners have been  handed-over, so we hope to publish on this blog shortly. Keep watch.

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