Franco Moretti , All rights reserved. The moral . concrete: graphs, maps, and trees place the literary field literally in front of our eyes— and show us . franco moretti. GRAPHS, MAPS, TREES. Abstract Models for Literary History—1. What follows is the first of three interconnected articles, whose common. In Graphs, Maps, Trees Franco Moretti attempts to use these, and a range of other abstract models, to explore genres, plots, and other aspects of literature.

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Abstract Models for a Literary History.

Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History by Franco Moretti

ISBN 1 0. Franco Moretti’s very small book makes some very big claims.

Not all of these are immediately relevant to the concerns of the readers of The Librarybut Moretti makes a point that no one engaged in the study of book culture can ignore: Given how much the study of the book has broadened over the past two decades this conclusion is unsurprising.

However, Moretti is a Marxist, though he encompasses [End Page ] in his study of book culture not only production and circulation, but the strictly literary operations of specific genres.

He does so using models more prevalent in economics and geography than in literary study. The result may be an eye-catching addition to the methodology of book culture, but it also results in a sharp attack on a central concept in the study of literature since the Alexandrian Greeks two thousand years ago cultivated the idea of the ‘canon’: Not a bit of it, says Moretti, and with his graphs, maps, and trees proceeds to show why.


Franco Moretti: Graphs, Maps, Trees – 1. New Left Review 24, November-December

Scientific, and especially quantitative analysis has had a very bad press in the humanities, as Moretti rgaphs. His strategy is to take the offence by announcing his approach as a new direction in literary theory: Texts are certainly the real objects of literature [ In Chapter 1, ‘Graphs’, Moretti’s case study is the novel.

Using standard data in publications by W. Beasley, and James Raven, and comparing it with similar sources covering Japan, Spain, Italy, and Nigeria, he traces the number of new novels per year, chiefly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His graphs disclose nothing like the standard concept of ‘the rise of the novel’, but rather a wave-like treez that rises and falls in response to external events.

Turning to the graphing of genres courtship novel, sporting novel, Imperial Gothic, etc. We may search for the causes of the oscillation, but what we should be observing is the pattern itself.

Here he abandons the quantitative method and turns to morphology, concluding that ‘the cycle is the hidden thread of literary history’ p. This is not as banal as it seems, for Moretti points out how the oscillation enables the genre to exploit a double pool of talents and forms, and thus shapes it not as a single form, but as a constantly diversifying one.

Cultural mapping is standard stuff in contemporary geography, and though Moretti’s earlier work has had its critics, his results here are genuinely illuminating, pointing as they do to the matrix of relations that emerges.


In the case of Our Village he shows how ruthlessly its locations are dispersed between andand with it the idyllic focus of the genre If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click ‘Authenticate’. View freely available titles: Book titles OR Journal titles.

Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History

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