Visualizing Lexical Novelty in Literature

September 19, 2011

Novels are full of new characters, new locations and new expressions. The discourse between characters involves new ideas being exchanged. We can get a hint of this by tracking the introduction of new terms in a novel. In the below visualizations (in which each column represents a chapter and each small block a paragraph of text), I maintain a variable which represents novelty. When a paragraph contains more than 25% new terms (i.e. words that have not been observed thus far) this variable is set at its maximum of 1.