Mapping Byron's Mediterranean Letters and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage I-II: By the Numbers

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What do literary maps do … First, they are a good way to prepare a text for analysis. You choose a unit – walks, lawsuits, luxury goods, whatever – find its occurrences, place them in space … or in other words: you reduce the text to a few elements, and abstract them from the narrative flow, and construct a new, artificial object like the maps that I have been discussing.

Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History

 

This exhibit plots all of the places named in Byron's letters and the Pilgrimage I-II and examines the frequency of place names in both. If, for example, one has the occasion to wander the St James's district, one will grasp the sense of scale of Byron's London during his years of fame by better understanding the relative proximity, say, of The Albany, 13 Piccadilly Terrace, and 50 Albemarle Street. The exhibit before you attempts to visualize the international scale of Byron's and Harold's Mediterranean travels. The blue dots on the horizontal timeline indicate the date of the letter in which a place is named by Byron. The red dots indicate the actual date of the visit according to Hobhouse's diaries. The vertical list of waypoints includes the place names in the letters (eg. Delphi) and the place names in the poem (eg. Delphi CHP). Most importantly, the exhibit offers the visitor the opportunity to explore independently the letters and the poetry by the means of digital tools. Below the reader will find a web tool embedded twice. The digital tool voyant-tools.org, developed by Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell, enables the reader to find word counts as well as relative frequencies in a text or a collection of texts. The collection of Byron's letters written during the Mediterranean Tour is uploaded in the embedded Voyant web tool. By clicking on the windowpane near the top right of the Voyant box, the reader can choose from a menu of data visualization tools. (The header to each letter -- which is editorial -- has been deleted for the purpose of this experiment.) The same edition of CHP used in the Pilgrimage exhibit is uploaded in the next embedded Voyant web tool. The reader can search the number and relative frequency of each word on the poem's first two Cantos. This exhibit provides the Byron amateur and specialist alike with the most detailed spatial information possible.

 

PMC V1 August 2016, revised 30 September 2017; V2 October 2018

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The text of Byron's Letters written during the Mediterranean Tour uploaded into Voyant

 

 

The text of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage I-II uploaded into Voyant