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Philip Roth

  by Blake Bailey

(about 1,226 pages)
total words
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
passive voice
of all the books in our library
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

I invented her. But I did not invent Linda Tripp. Pamela Solomon [a friend of Sylphid] is a woman who has a dalliance with this man [Ira] who is impressive to her. He’s older, he has stature, he’s heroic… and when things get hot for her she does what she can to save her skin. I invented Pamela Solomon but I didn’t invent Monica Lewinsky… I have to tell you that I accept any literary judgment having to do with the persuasiveness of the presentation, but I really cannot be told what I have a right to portray and what I don’t have a right to portray. And I have no patience for it… The great thing about literature is, it doesn’t matter if you like Emma Bovary or don’t like her. Only one thing matters: Is she interesting? Do you like Raskolnikov? Or do you not like Raskolnikov? It’s irrelevant. He’s a murdererit’s kid stuff. How many of you were engaged by Raskolnikov, and how many of you weren’t? We don’t have to have easy moralizing reactions to characters in literature… There’s something agitating, disturbing, questionable in the presentation of these women. Never in the presentation of the men. Sabbath is perfectly all right with you—this crazy cocksman. Fine. Ira? Violent, kills somebody? Fine. But there’s something “wrong” in the presentation of Hope Lonoff, who doesn’t want to leave this bad marriage she’s in. Seems to be insufficiently forceful, assertive… Isn’t Sylphid assertive enough for you? Isn’t enough to kill him. Meanwhile—because the MRI alone couldn’t determine the nature of the tumor—Herman endured a painful biopsy, in June 1988, that entailed getting a hole punched in his upper palate so the doctor could extract a sample of tumor tissue. During the two-hour drive to Connecticut afterward, Philip stopped at a restaurant and got a bag full of ice cubes, and by the time they got home Herman’s shirt was soaked from the ice he’d sucked with his aching, half-paralyzed mouth. Father and son entered the house through the kitchen door and Bloom, standing there at the stove, “threw her hands up to her face in horror, began to scream, and ran out of the house,” as Roth remembered. He steered his bewildered father upstairs and got him settled into the guest bedroom, then went looking for Bloom—whom he found, at last, “cowering beside the woods about a third of a mile from the house… I said something like, ‘He’s sick. He’s been in the hospital. He’s dying. He’s eighty-six and he’s in hell. What do you expect him to look like? Do you think I liked handling your mother’s corpse?’ Roth elided the episode in Patrimony, where he was careful to emphasize Bloom’s good works—the way she’d prepared a big pot of vegetable soup for Herman and cut flowers for his room. The next day Herman felt well enough, at first, to sit down for lunch with Philip, Claire, and their visitors—Sandy’s

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 6132.40 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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