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About the Author: Franco Moretti

Franco Moretti is an Italian literary scholar, trained as a Marxist critic, whose work focuses on the history of the novel as a "planetary form". He has written five books, Signs Taken for Wonders (1983), The Way of the World (1987), Modern Epic (1995), Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 (1998), and Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005). His recent work is notable for importing, not without controversy, quantitative methods from the social sciences into domains that have traditionally belonged to the humanities. To date, his books have been translated into fifteen languages.

Moretti has recently edited a five-volume encyclopedia of the novel, entitled Il Romanzo (2004), featuring articles by a wide range of experts on the genre from around the world. It is available in a two-volume English language edition (Princeton UP, 2006).

Moretti earned his doctorate in modern literature from the University of Rome in 1972, graduating summa cum laude. He was professor of comparative literature at Columbia University before being appointed to the Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professorship at Stanford University. There, he founded the Stanford Center for the Study of the Novel. He has given the Carpenter Lectures at the University of Chicago, the Gauss Seminars in Criticism at Princeton, and the Beckman Lectures at the University of California-Berkeley. In 2006, he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also has been a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is a frequent contributor to the New Left Review and a member of Retort, a Bay Area-based group of radical intellectuals. He is also a scientific adviser to the French Ministry of Research.


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Abstract Models for Literary History by

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Paperback, Published in Sep 2007 by Verso

ISBN10: 1844671852 | ISBN13: 9781844671854

Page count: 119

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.

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