In a NY Times article entitled Anaylzing Literature by Words and Numbers, two professors at George Mason University are mentioned for using digital search tools to do word analysis of great Victorian novels to see what this might reveal about Victorian society. Personally, I think the professors are wasting their time with these search tools. In just under 15 minutes, I scanned three great Victorian novels: Hard Times, Great Expectations and Vanity Fair and found these words to be the most common: carriage, horse, candle, shawl, gentlemen, brandy, beer, cigar, tobacco and mincemeat. Ok, I only saw one reference to mincemeat, but I thought I’d throw it in since it is the holiday season.
So, what does this tell us about Victorian society? Exactly what we already know – that they favored hankies and shawls, had no electricity, or cars and were fond of smokes and liquor. Deep!