Kerouac’s “On the Road” blooms
April 1, 2010
Here is something beautiful to look at and intriguing to consider. London-based data artist and book designer Stefanie Posavec visually represents the patterns and rhythms of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. She dissects, maps and color codes Part One’s chapters, paragraphs, sentences and words into a blooming diagram called “Literary Organism.”
Via the website Notcot: “meticulous scouring the surface of the text, highlighting and noting sentence length, prosody and themes, Posavec’s approach to the text is not unlike that of a surveyor.”
Below is On the Road Chapter 10.
This image doesn’t come near the exquisite detail of that “meticulous scouring.” You can see it and the rest of the image better at Notcot — scroll down Notcot’s page for “high res glory.” You’ll also find in high resolution Posavec’s additional interpretations that include:
- visualizations of rhythm textures of selected On the Road quotes
- sentence length organized by word per sentence
- sentence drawings of the novel
Below is Stefanie Posavec’s working copy of On the Road.
Posavec’s website contains further explanations and more of her work that’s all part of her project Writing Without Words. For example, she diagrams the writing styles of various authors from first chapters of their books: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, to name a few. Posavec says this about her First Chapter drawings:
“The more tightly wound the drawing means a shorter, choppier flow of sentences was used, while a larger drawing represents a writing style that utilises long, flowing sentences.”
Below is George Orwell’s “choppier” 1984 First Chapter.
Thanks to Dave C. who directed me via Facebook to author David McCandless’ Information is Beautiful website. From there I went down the rabbit hole and discovered all the above.