Friday, 27 July 2012

Social networks and Beowulf

There's a research paper which argues that Beowulf, the Iliad and the Tain are more like reality than Shakepeare or Harry Potter. This seems to be causing a bit of a flutter and some angst among literary types.

Basically two physicists worked out the social graph in Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Tain and compared it to the social graph in well known works of fiction and demonstrated that it was different, and that the epics had graphs that were more like each other than the works of fiction.

They then compared these with the social graphs of people like company directors given that leaders of warbands  are not that common these days

From there the made the leap to say that the epics were more rooted in 'real' messy events than works of fiction. In real life shit happens and sometimes people make what look to be astoundingly stupid errors.

Fiction flows more and has less left field type stuff.

What would be interesting is to take various of the norse sagas and compare them to something like the Tain.

Why? Because we know that most of the personages in the sagas were real. In the Tain, which is essentially the retelling of a war over cattle in pre Christian (and pre literate) Ireland we don't know if it's based on real events or not.

And if that works we could then apply the analysis to a range of other stories, such as the dreamtime stories or various semi mythological south east asian epics ....

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