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Charles Dickens

  by Jane Smiley

(about 241 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:

novel in the contract Dickens had with him. Dickens’s sense of his own popularity and earning potential was now considerably changed from 1836, when he first went to work for Bentley. He was no longer “primus inter pares” among a group of authors. He was a star, the star. The legality or morality of contractual agreements had to give way, and give way it did. Dickens had already found more congenial publishers in the firm of Chapman and Hall, who had published The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby and were careful (under the urging of John Forster, who served as Dickens’s business agent) to be liberal both in their remuneration and in the flexibility of their contract terms. Dickens was beginning to feel, with justification, that anything he might choose to do would be popular and lucrative, and he was impatient for the freedom to do it. The fact was, though, that Dickens’s work, career, and domestic life were bound together in a tight knot not easily unraveled by anything as clear as contractual obligations. When the subject was money, there could be no uncomplicated thoughts or feelings for Charles Dickens. Money—what could be earned, how it would be spent, what it meant, its effects on a man’s or woman’s character and fate, whether and how it would be given away—was a subject that obsessed Dickens for his entire life and, it may be said, finally killed him. The deals he made and broke over the years were advertised—the couple’s stateroom was so tiny that he likened stowing their trunks to forcing a giraffe into a flowerpot. But he took his usual lively interest in everything there was to see, writing later in American Notes that “one party of men were ‘taking in the milk,’ or, in other words, getting the cow on board; and another were filling the ice-houses to the very throat with fresh provisions; with butcher’s meat and garden stuff, pale sucking pigs, calvesheads in scores, beef, veal, and pork, and poultry out of all proportion…” The captain later arrived in a small boat, and he was just what Dickens hoped for, “a well-made, tight-built, dapper little fellow; with a ruddy face, which is a letter of invitation to shake him by both hands at once, and a clear blue, honest eye that it does one good to see one’s sparkling image in.” What boded well did not go well—the eighteen-day journey was an arduous labor of heavy seas, dazed seasickness, cold, and fear. Even so, even though both Charles and Catherine were nearly overcome by anxiety, Dickens, as always, was able to enjoy certain things and to evoke them for his readers—after days at sea, he writes, “the captain (who never goes to bed and is never out of humor) turns up his coat collar for the deck again; shakes hands all around; and goes laughing out into the weather as merrily as to a birthday party.” Dickens was thrilled

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 1202.50 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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