Franco Moretti has recently called for a "distant reading" which "focus[es] on units that are much smaller or much larger than the text: devices, themes, tropes—or genres and systems." For Moretti, such a reading involves a "process of deliberate reduction and abstraction," which produces "artificial constructs—graphs, maps, trees" and results in "a specific form of knowledge " quite different from "traditional" close readings of canonical literature. This article builds on Moretti's work, offering a statistical case study of the professional practice—production rates, generic choices, and writing patterns—of the bestselling popular author "Richard Marsh" (1857-1915). While the resulting graphs indicate patterns and trends in the career of one professional writer, their abstract nature also suggests ways in which we might approach the work of other authors, indeed, authorship itself, through statistical analysis.
Vuohelainen, M. (2013). "Contributing to Most Things": Richard Marsh, Literary Production, and the Fin de Siècle Periodicals Market. Victorian Periodicals Review, 46(3), 401-422. https://doi.org/10.1353/vpr.2013.0022