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First steps towards “Experimental Literature 2.0”

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Posted April 23, 2014
First steps towards
Narrative focalisations sequence in La simulation humaine. Credit: Cyril Bornet – DH Lab – EPFL

As part of a student’s thesis, the Laboratory of Digital Humanities at EPFL has developed an application that aims at rearranging literary works by changing their chapter order. “The human simulation” a saga written by the Swiss writer Daniel de Roulet and whose tenth and final volume was released today, is the basis for this experiment.

We already had the Hundred Thousand Billion Poems, Raymond Queneau’s book in which the reader can compose sonnets by choosing each verse out of ten possibilities. Well, as of today we have The Human Simulation in digital format. It results from a joint project between the Laboratory of Digital humanities (DH Lab) at EPFL, led by Frédéric Kaplan, and the Swiss writer Daniel de Roulet. It offers a new type of reading path through a book sequence – ten novels – that explore 75 years of nuclear history between Japan, Ukraine and the United States.

Developed as a free application (in French) for smartphones, tablets or computers, The Human Simulation offers a neat and dynamic reading experience of ten different books. At least in appearance. They are all certainly based on the same corpus: 297 chapters of the eponymous saga, written between 1990 and 2014 by Daniel de Roulet – the last book, Le démantèlement du cœur, is now available-. “Each chapter constitutes a narrative unit with enough elements in common with the other chapters of the saga so that it is possible to read them in a different order than that of the publication,” explained the writer. Accordingly, he was able to “reconstruct” six stories and three novels of varying lengths (from one to 38 chapters) by obtaining their material from the ten books making up the saga. The last reconstruction, named Total simulation brings the entire work together.

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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