Abstract

This study is a test case in the use of stylometric techniques to provide an entrance into questions of literary criticism and interpretation. The study applies multivariate analysis to two texts of Charles Brockden Brown, sometimes considered the first professional writer in the United States. Both a scatter graph of a principal components analysis and a cluster analysis show that individual chapters from each of two novels (Wieland and Carwin) group together, except for three chapters of Wieland that cluster with the Carwin chapters. One chapter of Wieland that clusters with the Carwin chapters is narrated by the same character who narrates all of Carwin, thus providing statistical evidence that Brown has created a narrator with a distinctive voice. Accounting for the clustering of the other two chapters calls for a consideration of several of the more crucial and problematic interpretative issues in the novel, and suggests that quantitative analysis can indeed provide background and evidence for literary critical discussion and understanding.

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