Saturday, February 28, 2015

What Colour are Books?

What colour are famous books?

Colours Used I counted up the occurrence of the
colours = ["red","orange","yellow","green","blue","purple","pink","brown","black","gray","white", "grey"]
in Ulysses by James Joyce. I'll post the word count code soon

red 113, orange 12, yellow 50, green 98, blue 82, purple 17, pink 21, brown 59, black 146, gray 2, white 163, grey 68

Turned this count into a barchart with r package ggplot2 graphing package

df <- data.frame(colours = factor(c("pink","red","orange","yellow","green","blue","purple", "brown", "black", "white", "grey"), levels=c("pink","red","orange","yellow","green","blue","purple","brown", "black", "white", "grey")),
                 total_counts = c(21.0, 113.0,12.0, 50.0, 98.0, 82.0, 17.0, 59.0, 146.0,163.0,70.0))
colrs = factor(c("pink","red","orange","yellow","green","blue","purple", "brown", "black", "white", "grey"))

bp <- ggplot(data=df, aes(x=colours, y=total_counts)) + geom_bar(stat="identity",fill=colrs)+guides(fill=FALSE)
bp + theme(axis.title.x = element_blank(), axis.title.y = element_blank())+ ggtitle("Ulysses Color Counts")

There is a huge element of unweaving the rainbow in just counting the times a colour is mentioned in a book. The program distills “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.” into a single number. Still I think the ability to quickly look at the colour palette of a book is interesting.

The same picture made from the colours in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Translated by Constance Garnett

Translations produce really funny graphs with this method. According to Jenks@GreekMythComix the ancient Greeks did not really use colours in the same abstract way we did. Things were not 'orange' so much as 'the colour of an orange'. The counts in the Alexander Pope translation of the Iliad are
red 36, yellow 11, green 16, blue 9, purple 43, brown 4, black 69, gray 1, white 25, grey 6

Because colours are not really mentioned in the original Iliad these sorts of graphs could be a quick way to compare translations. Google book trends does not seem to show increased use of these colours overtime.

No comments: