[Chapter 6 of the first book of The Book of the New Sun, and is famous for being an extended homage to Jorge Luis Borges as the blind librarian Ultan who was gifted blindness right as he became librarian, and also has some of the most beautiful writing in the series.]
…“You are in close contact, then, with your opposite numbers in the city,” I said. The old man stroked his beard. “The closest, for we are they. This library is the city library, and the library of the House Absolute too, for that matter. And many others.” “Do you mean that the rabble of the city is permitted to enter the Citadel to use your library?” “No,” said Ultan. “I mean that the library itself extends beyond the walls of the Citadel. Nor, I think, is it the only institution here that does so. It is thus that the contents of our fortress are so much larger than their container.”
…His grip on my shoulder tightened. “We have books here bound in the hides of echidnes, krakens, and beasts so long extinct that those whose studies they are, are for the most part of the opinion that no trace of them survives unfossilized. We have books bound wholly in metals of unknown alloy, and books whose bindings are covered with thickset gems. We have books cased in perfumed woods shipped across the inconceivable gulf between creations—books doubly precious because no one on Urth can read them.”
“We have books whose papers are matted of plants from which spring curious alkaloids, so that the reader, in turning their pages, is taken unaware by bizarre fantasies and chimeric dreams. Books whose pages are not paper at all, but delicate wafers of white jade, ivory, and shell; books too whose leaves are the desiccated leaves of unknown plants. Books we have also that are not books at all to the eye: scrolls and tablets and recordings on a hundred different substances. There is a cube of crystal here—though I can no longer tell you where—no larger than the ball of your thumb that contains more books than the library itself does. Though a harlot might dangle it from one ear for an ornament, there are not volumes enough in the world to counterweight the other. All these I came to know and made safeguarding them my life’s devotion. For seven years I busied myself with that; and then, just when the pressing and superficial problems of preservation were disposed of, and we were on the point of beginning the first general survey of the library since its foundation, my eyes began to gutter in their sockets. He who had given all books into my keeping made me blind so that I should know in whose keeping the keepers stand.”
…“In every library, by ancient precept, is a room reserved for children. In it are kept bright picture books such as children delight in, and a few simple tales of wonder and adventure. Many children come to these rooms, and so long as they remain within their confines, no interest is taken in them.” He hesitated, and though I could discern no expression on his face, I received the impression that he feared what he was about to say might cause Cyby pain.
“From time to time, however, a librarian remarks a solitary child, still of tender years, who wanders from the children’s room and at last deserts it entirely. Such a child eventually discovers, on some low but obscure shelf, The Book of Gold. You have never seen this book, and you will never see it, being past the age at which it is met.”
“It must be very beautiful,” I said."It is indeed. Unless my memory betrays me, the cover is of black buckram,considerably faded at the spine. Several of the signatures are coming out, and certain of the plates have been taken. But it is a remarkably lovely book. I wish that I might find it again, though all books are shut to me now. The child, as I said, in time discovers The Book of Gold. Then the librarians come—like vampires, some say, but others say like the fairy godparents at a christening. They speak to the child, and the child joins them. Henceforth he is in the library wherever he may be, and soon his parents know him no more.
2004-chivers-headcase.pdf: “Headcase”, Sam Chivers (2004):
[Early webcomic by British artist Sam Chivers. Notable for being a Flash webcomic, originally hosted at
www.realitytax.com, but apparently removed when published in the 2004 comics anthology Prophecies: Volume 1 (Sequent Media, ISBN: 0974653101).
“Headcase” is a wordless narrative in a Moebius-like style set in a grim dystopian cyberpunk future where an initially hopeful working-class robot (reminiscent of a crash test dummy) struggles to get to his job, survive his shift, and the indignities of the day (such as stepping on poop), becoming progressively ground down and broken; he adopts the spirit of a monkey, whose prank precipitates his beating by a local thug; the robot then commit suicide, smashing his head open, revealing it was piloted by a small dying animal. The monkey spirit resurrects the corpse, becoming a busker dancing in a costume for donations; at the very end, the monkey-robot steps on a piece of poop and becomes annoyed.]
2017-tuzzi.pdf: “Drawing Elena Ferrante's Profile [Workshop Proceedings, Padova, 7 September 2017]”, Arjuna Tuzzi, Michele A. Cortelazzo (2017-09-07):
The chapters of this volume report the results of this endeavour that were first presented during the international workshop Drawing Elena Ferrante’s Profile in Padua on 7 September 2017 as part of the 3rd IQLA-GIAT Summer School in Quantitative Analysis of Textual Data. The fascinating research findings suggest that Elena Ferrante’s work definitely deserves “many hands” as well as an extensive effort to understand her distinct writing style and the reasons for her worldwide success.
…In 2016, an Italian research team embarked on a study suitable for submitting to the international scientific community for debate. It collected a corpus of 150 novels published in the last 30 years, written by 40 different Italian authors, and chosen according to precise parameters that took into account the main hypotheses emerging over the years concerning the real identity of Elena Ferrante, and the general scenario of contemporary Italian literature. To submit their findings to a broader scientific community for discussion, the authors adopted the well-established practice of presenting the results at specialist conferences and as peer-reviewed journal articles. They also went a step further: in the conviction that any worthwhile research is—by its very nature—transparent and available for debating, continuing, and confuting, as the case may be, they circulated their data to international experts of authorship attribution, profiling and analysis of textual data, inviting them to apply their own analytical methods to the material made available.This volume is a collection of the contributions of various researchers who used various scientific methods to identify the author behind the novels by Elena Ferrante—a nom de plume that has become one of the most remarkable and often-discussed successes in the publishing world in recent years. The list of the academics involved, in addition to the curators of this volume, Arjuna Tuzzi and Michele Cortelazzo (University of Padova), includes (in alphabetical order): Maciej Eder (Pedagogical University of Kraków—Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland), Patrick Juola (Duquesne University of Pittsburgh, PA USA), Vittorio Loreto and his research team, Margherita Lalli and Francesca Tria (University of Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy), George Mikros (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece), Pierre Ratinaud (University of Toulouse II “Jean Jaurès” France), Jan Rybicki (Jagiellonian University of Kraków, Poland), and Jacques Savoy (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). The results of the research conducted by this international group of experts were presented for the first time during the workshop Drawing Elena Ferrante’s profile, held in Padua on 7 September 2017, as part of the 3rd IQLA-GIAT Summer School in Quantitative Analysis of Textual Data. The Summer School, directed by Arjuna Tuzzi and run by Padova University’s Dipartimento di Filosofia, Sociologia, Pedagogia e Psicologia Applicata [Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology], is an interdisciplinary program financed by the University of Padova. The exchange of ideas among the experts at the workshop, with the addition of contributions from 20 participants (from 11 different countries) attending the Summer School, provided the basis for the present publication.Reading this volume, it is very interesting to see how the various contributions succeed in producing a genuinely interdisciplinary study on a concrete object of study. Not only were the authors of the contributions from all sorts of disciplines (linguists, social scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, physicists), they also conversed with one another from different analytical approaches. In addition, the vast majority of them do not speak Italian, so they worked on the corpus of novels completely blinded to the meaning of the words, trusting entirely to their methods for quantitatively analyzing textual data. Though they moved from different perspectives, their results supported and strengthened each other’s like the different voices in a choir, leading to remarkably coherent and integrated conclusion.
2018-tuzzi.pdf: “What is Elena Ferrante? A comparative analysis of a secretive bestselling Italian writer”, Arjuna Tuzzi, Michele A. Cortelazzo (2018-01-19):
This article looks at the case of Elena Ferrante, the (presumed) pseudonym of an internationally successful Italian novelist, and has two objectives: first, to observe how her novels are positioned in the panorama of modern Italian literature (represented by an ad hoc reference corpus—composed of 150 novels by forty different authors) and, second, to attempt to understand whether, amongst the authors in the corpus, there are any that can be considered candidates for involvement in the writing of the novels signed Ferrante.
Consistent with these two objectives, the analyses also use two methods: correspondence analysis for the content mapping of the novels and Labbé’s intertextual distances to establish a measure of similarity between the novels. In the results, we do not see the expected similarities with writers from the Naples area as Elena Ferrante distinguishes herself with original literary products that, both in terms of theme and style, show her strong individuality.
Amongst the authors included, Domenico Starnone, who has been previously identified by other investigations as the possible hand behind this pen name, is the author who has written novels most similar to those of Ferrante and which, over time, has become progressively more similar.
2020-cortelazzo.pdf: “A chi assomiglia Elena Ferrante? Un profilo stilometrico aggiornato [Who Does Elena Ferrante Look Like? A Revised Stylometric Identikit]”, Michele A. Cortelazzo, Arjuna Tuzzi (2020-11-01):
Based on a corpus including 150 novels by 40 authors, a stylometric survey was conducted to assess which modern authors were similar to Elena Ferrante, the pen name used for eight novels, including “My Brilliant Friend” (Tuzzi & Cortelazzo 2018a and 2018b). The survey proved that Elena Ferrante’s writing style is remarkably different from that of the other main contemporary Italian novelists with the notable exception of Domenico Starnone. Follow-up studies (Cortelazzo, Mikros & Tuzzi 2018 and another under way) show that non-fiction works signed by Elena Ferrante may be attributed to different authors, i.e., Anita Raja, Starnone again, and a collective author including the staff of the E/
O publishing house. This study complements the results obtained by previous research by assessing Elena Ferrante’s role in modern Italian fiction following the publication of her latest novel, “The Lying Life of Adults”. In addition, the analysis of her similarities to Domenico Starnone was enhanced by means of a larger corpus of his novels, thus corroborating the outcome of previous research. [Keywords: Elena Ferrante, contemporary Italian literature, authorship attribution, similarity measure, text clustering]