Algorithmic Reading: The Stranger

“Reading” The Stranger by Albert Camu using algorithms to visualize the reading experience and semantics of the novel. 

The visual system was created to differentiate The Stranger from other literary work, highlighting the short sentences and frequent pauses of the writing that create an atmosphere of detachment, indifference and resignedness. Each white pixel represent a pause with a sencence fragment in between. Associated with the impact they have on readers, shorter fragments are darker and longer fragments are lighter in color.

Information was gathered from the 34,698-word novel using Python, visualized using Processing.

By enumerating each 3-word-phrases I was able to rank the most frequent ones, which turned out to have captured the spirit of the novel. The most common phrases was arranged in a specific sequence inviting people to come up their own narrative, as if coming up with their understanding of the novel.

©Lorraine Li 2019