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GRAPHS, MAPS, TREES
Abstract Models for Literary History—2
There is a very simple question, about literary maps: what exactly do they do? What do they do that cannot be done with words, that is; because, if it can be done with words, then maps are superfluous. Take Bakhtin’s essay on the chronotope: it is the greatest study ever written on space and narrative, and it doesn’t have a single map. Carlo Dionisotti’s Geografia e storia della letteratura italiana, the same. Raymond Williams’s The Country and the City, the same. Henri Lafon’s Espaces romanesques du XVIIIe siècle . . . Do maps add anything, to our knowledge of literature?
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- Franco Moretti: Graphs, Maps, Trees - 1 The first of three essays setting out to demonstrate the power of abstract models to revolutionize our understanding of literary history. What do the quantitative curves of novel production tell us about the interplay of markets, politics, sexes, generations, in the life and death of literary forms?
- Franco Moretti: Graphs, Maps, Trees - 3 After ‘graphs’ and ‘maps’, trees: can evolutionary theory help pattern the transformation of cultural forms and divergence of genres, through time and space? Franco Moretti’s final essay on abstract models for literary history.
- Christopher Prendergast: Evolution and Literary History A landmark engagement with Franco Moretti’s triptych of essays, Graphs, Maps, Trees. What forms of logic underpin the use of evolutionary models to lay bare the survival strategies of the detective story, or trace the mutations of a border-hopping stylistic technique? And what political implications follow from basing an account of literary history on the outcome of the market?