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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
The academics put more than 100 works of world literature, by authors from Charles Dickens to Shakespeare, Alexandre Dumas, Thomas Mann, Umberto Eco and Samuel Beckett, through a detailed statistical analysis. Looking at sentence lengths and how they varied, they found that in an “overwhelming majority” of the studied texts, the correlations in variations of sentence length were governed by the dynamics of a cascade – meaning that their construction is a fractal: a mathematical object in which each fragment, when expanded, has a structure resembling the whole.
“Evidently, they (like Joyce) had a kind of intuition, as it happens to great artists, that such a narrative mode best reflects ‘how nature works’ and they properly encoded this into their texts,” he said. “Nature evolves through cascades and thus arranges fractally, and imprints of this we find in the sentence-length variability.”