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Playing with Tools for Text

Our assignment this week was to play with some text mining tools and to try blogging our ventures “in progress.”  After taking a look at some of the tools, I wondered if any might be used to compare the text of a novel with the screenplay of a film adaptation of the novel.  I was thinking of The Big Sleep (1946), in which some of the dialogue is lifted word-for-word from Chandler’s novel.  Obviously the dialogue in the actual film might be different from that in the published screenplay, but I thought it would be interesting to see how/if tools could be used to find these similarities instead of the variations that are commonly sought in comparing literary editions.

I’ve found an electronic version of the novel, and both a pdf of the screenplay and a text file of the film’s dialogue.  I’m looking at Juxta, thinking I may be able to compare a scene of my choosing; or, perhaps I can compare visualizations of each text.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  To be continued…

About Roxanne Shirazi

Roxanne Shirazi is the Dissertation Research Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.
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3 Responses to Playing with Tools for Text

  1. Roxanne Shirazi says:

    Yes, I believe it was one of Faulkner’s last efforts in Hollywood–and I’d be surprised if Howard Hawks didn’t have a lot of input as well. I have a feeling this interplay between script and source for this film has had its fair share of attention already, but I still think it would be illuminating to see a visualization or have some kind of quantification.

    The problem I’m having so far is comparing two different formats; the screenplay has the character names before each line, etc. If they were both already encoded in TEI I could probably do something with the dialogue tag to call up the information, but it looks like I’ll have to do some sort of workaround which necessitates limiting myself to a particular scene. I could probably get a quick visualization using Voyant if I can set specific stop words for the character names.

  2. Steve Brier says:

    Addendum: Just remember and double checked: William Faulkner is listed as co-screenwriter (he gets first credit). It will really be interesting to see how much of Chandler he and his co-writer actually kept. If a lot, it would make a fascinating argument for how good Chandler was as a writer (or, perhaps, how over his head Faulkner was in Hollywood!)

  3. Steve Brier says:

    Hi, Roxanne. Great idea for a data mining project. The film AND the book happen to be among my favorites. Who wrote the screenplay? As for comparing the two, you can convert the pdf to text using Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is on all GC computers. Never used Juxta so can’t help you there. The challenge will be when text and dialogue are close but not exact. Also, I wonder if the stage direction and scene settings are drawn from the novel, too, not only the dialogue?

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