What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Turning First Lines Into Constellations
Data artist Nick Rougeux has launched a new project called Literary Constellations, in which he presents the first lines of famous novels in what appear to be star charts. The idea originally wasn’t to make them look specifically like constellations however, it was an exploration of how to present data in beautiful, clever ways, but by connecting the words using his special formula, the result was a circular map which resembled a star chart, so he went with the idea. He’s also gone on to apply the formula to short stories and entire first chapters of books.
So what is the formula?
Rougeux’s sentence diagrams are organized by their grammatical structure. He connects the words in each sentence with lines, the length and direction of which are based on the length of the words and their parts of speech, respectively.
Here’s the explanation from Wired.com:
First, Rougeux mapped each part of speech to a point on a compass. A line that connects to an adjective, for example, points due north, while one that extends toward a prepositions does so in a southwesterly direction. Then he classified words from the opening lines of classic novels. Jane Austen opened Pride and Prejudice with a 23-word sentence comprised of a pronoun (It), verb (is), a (article), noun (truth), adverb (universally), verb (acknowledged), and so on. Next, he plotted the words in order, according to his system. The lines extending from “It” and “is” are of equal length and much shorter than the line extending from the word “universally”. But they point in different directions, because the words toward which they extend are different parts of speech (a verb and an article, respectively). When he connected all the dots, he got something that looks like this:
At the Jane Austen News we think his work is absolutely beautiful, so we felt we had to share it with you.
Recommended Reads For Young Adult Austen Fans
This week Barnes and Noble published a list of their six top books for young adult fans of Jane Austen.
At number one they recommend For Darkness Shows the Stars,