Discovering an Encyclopaedic Novel: a case study in automatically analysing Harry Mulisch’s The Discovery of Heaven (1992)

Ssummary

The literary studies field has a longstanding tradition of detailed analysis of literary works. This results in fine-grained, but usually small-scoped studies. The advent of computational methods makes it possible to scale up the subject of analysis and start for instance comparing entire oeuvres of authors or even genres. Before we do so though, it is important to evaluate the precision and impact of such computational methods, for which we have carried out a small study in which we automatically analysed Harry Mulisch’s The Discovery of Heaven (1992) using DBpedia Spotlight (Daiber et al., 2013). We chose to investigate this novel as is considered by many as Mulisch’s masterpiece (Brems, 2006), it is a fair body of work (nearly 1.000 pages, containing ≈270.000 words) and contains many references to disciplines such as the natural sciences, theology, humanities and politics. The novel embodies and uses encyclopaedic knowledge and could therefore be seen as an encyclopaedic novel. One could say it strives to capture the ideas and opinions of its time into its narrative, and shows a variety of means to interpret the world (Mendelson, 1976). These aspects make this kind of novel ideal to be analysed using computational methods, given the fact that the overwhelming amount of information it grants is hard to be grasped by the novel’s reader. (Van Ewijk, 2011, p. 214)


 

PDF Discovering an Encyclopaedic Novel: a case study in automatically analysing Harry Mulisch’s The Discovery of Heaven (1992). In:
iconwww DHBenelux 2016. Belval, Luxemburg, 9-10 June 2016.
group41 Leon van Wissen, Marieke van Erp, Ben Peperkamp