Literatura i ciència: un acostament

Mathematical Formalisation of the Phraseological Concordances of a Text: Determining Authorship in Fifteenth-Century Catalan Literature
Guia, Josep
Quaderns Divulgatius, 14 2000

Stylometry, as a scientific discipline concerned with measuring style indicators in written work, is a growing specialty. Martí de Riquer emphasises as characteristics of Tirant lo Blanc (The White Tyrant), particular expressive vehicles, which may frequently be found also, and with an identical function, throughout the work of Joan Roís de Corella. Stylometry, based only on formal criteria is somewhat limited with regard to the characterisation of styles and the subsequent determination of authorship, because such criteria are not sufficiently discriminating.
Thus, if for stylometric study we choose phraseological units as "basic textual segments", I would be so bold as to conjecture that the result would not be entirely satisfactory in this case either, since phraseological units, like lexical units, are fixed and codified in language and may be of general knowledge and use.
My proposal consists in taking into consideration the generalised phraseological units, or in other words, a fragment of the text that presents particular terms endowed with semantic content (key words), which is repeated, either in or out of the corpus analysed, with certain stability and an analogous discursive meaning in its different recurrences, but not in the sense that the repetition necessarily involves fixation. The study of the phraseology of any particular author or work makes sense in itself, independently of the applications to contrastive linguistics and comparative literature. These applications once the phraseology of two corpora is ordered, classified and becomes part of a repertoire, may lead to spectacular results, in contrasting them and thus discovering the possible relations between them, either in identification of authorship (if the two bodies of work are coetaneous), or in dependence of authorship (if one work is posterior to the other), or in establishing the fact that a particular work is a translation.
This vast research programme to be developed is in the process of theoretical formalisation, even while it has already given results, which, for the moment, are presented as hypotheses that have been received with expectation and interest by prejudice-free scholars. Stylometry based on phraseology follows the inductive method, taking off from specific experience gained in the search for phraseological concordances in fifteenth-century works of Catalan literature. The linguistic contrast had not been made between Lo Cartoixà (The Charterhouse) --a dense work to be studied, appropriated by clerics and theologians-- and Tirant lo Blanc (1490), the popularised version of the Vita Christi valenciana (1497) and l'Espill (The Mirror - 1531). Corella must have had the translation of the Vita Christi in his hands for many years, making of it a workshop for testing expressive solutions. In fact, without the effort of lexical and phraseological creation of the four volumes of Lo Cartoixà, which started to be published towards the end of Corella's life, these other works, such as we know them today, would not exist. All textual analysis should be completed with the contribution of contextual data in concordance with the hypothesis formulated. This aspect, often overlooked from the point of view of a particular conception of the history of literature, also forms part of the research now being undertaken, on the basis of the interpretation of Joan Fuster that Corella must have been condemned to silence by the Inquisition.
Presumably condemned, Corella must have sought a way to publish what he had written, even if under the names of fictitious writers, already deceased, whom nobody had known in their lives as writers. I have found archive material which is in line with my hypothesis, in the sense that a number of Corella's works, which were reused in Tirant lo Blanc, were written after the death of Martorell (1465). In conclusion, it is not impossible to achieve a characterisation of style or to discover the truth of late fifteenth-century literary enigmas of Valencia, at a time when both the printing press and the Inquisition came into being.

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