Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History is discussed in this new book, entitled Reading Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Responses to Franco Moretti, available as a free pdf and in other formats.
Graphs, Maps, Trees is a short, sharp book, that I found a really interesting challenge to standard ways that literature – but I think the history of ideas generally – could be studied. I’ve mentioned it to people who I thought were doing, or perhaps should be doing, similar things a couple of times and had completely blank looks. We tried to get a review done for Society and Space but it never materialised. A shame – it would be good for geographers to engage with what he is doing with mapping particularly. Here’s the blurb from the Verso website.
In this groundbreaking book, Franco Moretti argues that literature scholars should stop reading books and start counting, graphing, and mapping them instead. In place of the traditionally selective literary canon of a few hundred texts, Moretti offers charts, maps and time lines, developing the idea of “distant reading” into a full-blown experiment in literary historiography, in which the canon disappears into the larger literary system. Charting entire genres—the epistolary, the gothic, and the historical novel—as well as the literary output of countries such as Japan, Italy, Spain, and Nigeria, he shows how literary history looks significantly different from what is commonly supposed and how the concept of aesthetic form can be radically redefined.
Moretti is also the author and editor of a range of other books, several with Verso, including Atlas of the European Novel. For a Verso author he seems to have a surprisingly low profile outside of his own discipline. Anyway, good to see his work discussed in what looks like an interesting book – in terms of content, form, and publishing model.