Histories of East Asian literary modernity have often begun as historiographies of the narrative self. For some scholars, the emergence of a decidedly self-referential mode of fiction in the early twentieth century is part and parcel of what defines this modernity. In Japan there was the “I-novel”; and in China, Romantic fiction. The two are recognized as foundational genres that distinguished themselves from prior fiction by the adoption of a narrow autobiographical focus, extended psycho-narration, and a new vernacular writing style.
In this paper the authors use computational methods to argue that a heightened tendency toward lexical repetition was a significant point of coherence for the narrative practices now captured under the signs of “I-novel” and Romantic literature. The presence of this tendency in both cultural contexts prompts us to think about the role of repetition in literary style, but also of repetition as literary style. Examining this surface through a computational lens, they propose, opens up a new comparative framework for analyzing the effects of these interactions across the space of East Asian literary modernity.
Read it here!