Introduction

A little while ago Fionn Murtagh, Douglous Cowie and I wrote a paper covering how we’d tested some narrative analysis techniques on various domains, notably within Project TooManyCooks, but also by working with people in the publishing industry.

The abstract of the paper is:

From the earliest days of computing, there have been tools to help shape narrative. Spell-checking, word counts, and readability analysis, give today’s novelists tools that Dickens, Austen, and Shakespeare could only have dreamt of. However, such tools have focused on the word, or phrase levels. In the last decade, research focus has shifted to support for collaborative editing of documents. This work considers more sophisticated attempts to visualise the semantics, pace and rhythm within a narrative through data mining. We describe real life applications in two related domains.

The work got quite a lot of press: you can read my thoughts about the original New Scientist article here, and there’s a brief roundup of other mentions here.

This page gives a (wide) set of examples, showing some visualisations of both classic and modern books – for those interested in the style of report that I put together for people in the publishing industry, then this sample might help.

Alice through the looking glass

From wikipedia:

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is a work of  literature by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). It is the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The themes and settings of Through the Looking-Glass make it a kind of mirror image of Wonderland: the first book begins outdoors, in the warm month of May (May 4),[1] uses frequent changes in size as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of playing cards; the second opens indoors on a snowy, wintry night exactly six months later, on November 4 (the day before Guy Fawkes Night),[2] uses frequent changes in time and spatial directions as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of chess. In it, there are many mirror themes, including opposites, time running backwards, and so on.

There are only 12 chapters numbered from 1-12. and you can click on the diagram for a closure look.

The Count of Monte Cristo

From wikipedia:

The Count of Monte Cristo (FrenchLe Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It is often considered to be, along with The Three Musketeers, Dumas’ most popular work. He completed the work in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from the plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.[1]

The story takes place in FranceItaly, islands in the Mediterranean and the Levant during the historical events of 1815-1838 (from just before the Hundred Days through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. It is an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy and forgiveness.

Apologies for the massive diagram: there are 117 chapters numbered from 1-117. and you can click on the diagram for a closure look (you’d probably want to)

Gone with the wind

From Wikipedia:

Gone with the Wind, first published in May 1936, is a romantic novel written by Margaret Mitchell, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the book in 1937. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel depicts the experiences of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to come out of the poverty that she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. The book is the source of the 1939 film of the same name.

There are 63 chapters numbered from 1-63. and you can click on the diagram for a closure look.

Great Expectations

From Wikipedia:

Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in serial form in the publication All the Year Round[1] from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. It has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times.[2]

Great Expectations is written in the first person from the point of view of the orphan Pip. The novel, like much of Dickens’ work, draws on his experiences of life and people.

The text is conveniently split into 59 chapters and clicking on the image gives you, well, a bigger image

Treasure Island

From Wikipedia:

Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of “pirates and buried gold”. First published as a book on 23rd May 1883, it was originally serialized in the children’s magazine Young Folksbetween 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island; or, the mutiny of the Hispaniola and the pseudonym Captain George North.

Traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, it is an adventure tale known for its atmosphere, character and action, and also a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality—as seen in Long John Silver—unusual for children’s literature then and now. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perception ofpirates is vast, including treasure maps with an “X”, schoonersthe Black Spottropical islands, and one-legged seamen with parrots on their shoulders.[1]

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada. Five million copies were sold in the first 24 hours after release.[1]

The novel features Harry Potter’s struggles through his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including the surreptitious return of Harry’s nemesis Lord VoldemortO.W.L. exams, and an obstructiveMinistry of Magic.

It’s got 38 chapters and clicking on the diagram will give you a closer look.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

 

From Wikipedia:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents when Harry was one year old.

There are 17 Chapters and clicking on the diagram will give you a closer look.

Brave New World

From wikipedia:

Brave New World is a novel by Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of futurology. Huxley answered this book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final work, a novel titled Island (1962).

There are 18 Chapters and you can click on the diagram for a closer look.

Anna Karenina

From Wikipedia:

Anna Karenina (Russian: Анна Каренина; Russian pronunciation: [ˈanə kɐˈrʲenʲɪnə]) (sometimes Anglicised as Anna Karenin)[1] is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial instalments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. Tolstoy clashed with its editor Mikhail Katkov over issues that arose in the final instalment; therefore, the novel’s first complete appearance was in book form. Anna Karenina has such a crazy number of chapters that you are probably really going to want to click on the diagram for a better look.  Good luck.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The plot follows Harry‘s second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, during which a series of messages on the walls on the school’s corridors warn that the “Chamber of Secrets” has been opened and that the “heir of Slytherin” will kill all pupils who do not come from all-magical families. These threats are followed by attacks which leave residents of the school “petrified” (that is, frozen). Throughout the year, Harry and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger investigate the attacks, and Harry is confronted by Lord Voldemort, who is attempting to regain full power. There are 17 chapters, and you can click for a better look.

 

David Copperfield

From wikipedia: David Copperfield or The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (which he never meant to publish on any account)[1] is a novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial form a year earlier. Many elements within the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of all of his novels.[2] In the preface to the 1867 Charles Dickens edition, he wrote, “… like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.” [3]

There are 64 chapters and you can click on the diagram for a closer look.

Animal Farm

 

From Wikipedia: Animal Farm is a dystopian allegorical novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democratic socialist,[1] was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directedStalinism, especially after his

experiences with the NKVD, and what he saw of the results of the influence of Communist policy (“ceaseless arrests, censored newspapers, prowling hordes of armed police” – “Communism is now a counter-revolutionary force”),[2] during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter

to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel “contre Stalin”.[3]

There are only 10 Chapters and the structure is presented for interest – as always, clicking on the diagram will show you a larger one.