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Distant Reading Paperback – June 4, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1781680841 ISBN-10: 1781680841 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the most daring and intellectually exciting books of the year."—Washington Post

“The great iconoclast of literary criticism.”—John Sutherland, Guardian

“It’s a rare literary critic who attracts so much public attention, and there’s a good reason: few are as hellbent on rethinking the way we talk about literature.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Moretti, a mythopoeic figure, generates around himself a dense network of folklore and apocrypha.”—n+1

“Moretti is already famous in bookish circles for his data-centric approach to novels, which he graphs, maps, and charts ... if his new methods catch on, they could change the way we look at literary history.”—Wired

“Distant reading might prove to be a powerful tool for studying literature.”—New York Times

About the Author

Franco Moretti teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Signs Taken for Wonders, The Way of the World and Modern Epic, all from Verso.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781680841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781680841
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Santiago Ortiz on July 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is made of 10 essays that attack, from different angles, issues that obsess the author:

- the existence of a 'world literature', as a huge set of extremely diverse styles, forms and stories and, later with the globalization, as an organism or system. Franco Moretti speculates on how this system works, what are the mechanisms for new literary production, specially in the clash of the center and the periphery. He uses archetypes and metaphors brought from evolutionary biology, such as diffusion (wave), divergence (tree), confluence (anastomosis),...

- the problem for the literary critic theory, that can't access the entire world literature corpus. A critic can only read an extremely tiny percentage of all those books, and usually chooses what is considered canonical, thus leaving outside the "great unread".

- the possible solutions to this problem, what he calls 'distant reading', "distance [...] is a condition of knowledge: it allows you to focus on units that are much smaller or much larger than the text"

- the role of the market as an space or environment that shapes literary evolution, genre creation and successful literary artifacts discovery (again, under an evolutionary biology perspective)

Among the things that makes this book extremely interesting is the fact that the author wanders through difficult issues, often invalidating or revisiting previous ideas (he's playing, he's inviting to play).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By howiesan on September 21, 2014
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Generally fine, revisionist reading. Too bad Moretti knows hardly anything about present Latin American narrative, a discussion of which would have gone a long way toward making his arguments more solid and convincing. Having read one canonical novel like One Hundred Years of Solitude does not allow him to pontificate about a whole region. In that regard he is no better than Jameson. Yet, Moretti is not as turgid, and can even throw in a joke.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mick on October 17, 2013
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Innovative and interesting use of research strategies not often applied to literary studies, but sometimes a little too literally. Wish it had been literary rather than literal.
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