19 August 2009

Computer-assisted literary analysis

I wish I had time to try out computer software that is supposed to make the work of multilingual literary critics easier. For example, the CCS software colors every word according to its source language. With one look at a screen and without actually having to read a text, we can tell if a text is multilingual or not. The Palimpsest software apparently can help identify and count words in languages other than the main one of a text. Stylistic critics have been using computers for a long time to do their mechanical chores of counting. Perhaps computers can raise the level of literary criticism from the purely qualitative to a more quantitative one. Maybe C. P. Snow's classic divide (suddenly back again in the newspapers) can finally be bridged.

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