Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing
“It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg Address was so short,” Ernest Hemingway once said. “The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.” Testing this assertion is at the heart of Ben Blatt’s latest statistical adventure, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve.
Some long-held notions are more or less confirmed, like so-called “Great Literature’s” mordant distaste for “-ly” adverbs. Other insights are less obvious, like the surprising lists of literature’s most gendered words (chief and pillows) and most gendered novels (James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Kaye Gibbons’ Ellen Foster).
Highly amusing (ah, those damn adverbs), at least to bibliophiles and statisticians, Blatt’s book is a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon, and it should keep me in entertaining fun facts for a while.
Simon & Schuster