Sharon requested I present a map view of “Pride and Prejudice”, as I did for “The Great Gatsby”. As you can see by clicking on the interactive Java applet, P&P is a far more capacious place than Gatsby.
I’ve added a few things to the interaction. Now, in addition to using the arrow keys, you can get around the novel by dragging your mouse, and I suggest you expand your browser to full-screen when viewing it. Clearly I’m thinking here not just of reading eBooks, but of providing ways for people to interactively collaborate over the complete landscape of a narrative.
In addition to delineating its 61 chapters, I’ve also added three other examples of meta-data: The various mentions throughout the novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and Pemberley. The latter is Mr. Darcy’s magnificent estate, as well as a key plot element of the novel.
If you click on the three buttons toward the top, you enable a view of every mention of each of these three items. Even a cursory examination of their respective distributions is very revealing. Elizabeth permeates the novel — she is just about everywhere. In contrast, mentions of Mr. Darcy ebb and flow, in a continual teasing pattern.
To my surprise, Pemberley is rarely mentioned over the course the book, except for a small cluster of mentions near the beginning and then a much denser set of clusters about two thirds of the way through.
To me the biggest surprise comes in chapter 35. Except near its very beginning, this chapter mentions neither Elizabeth nor Mr. Darcy at all. It turns out that the bulk of the chapter consists of Mr. Darcy’s infamous letter to Elizabeth. The letter seems at first glance to contain one mention of Mr. Darcy himself, but a quick visit to the spot reveals that in fact Mr. Darcy is referring to his father.
I am becoming convinced that this ability to take in an entire narrative at a glance, and then to see visual answers to questions about that narrative, may just be the beginning of a new way of thinking about books.