source:Narrative structure of A Song of Ice and Fire creates a fictional world with realistic measures of social complexity | PNAS
Narrative structure of A Song of Ice and Fire creates a fictional world with realistic measures of social complexity
View ORCID ProfileThomas Gessey-Jones, View ORCID ProfileColm Connaughton, View ORCID ProfileRobin Dunbar, View ORCID ProfileRalph Kenna, Pádraig MacCarron, View ORCID ProfileCathal O’Conchobhair, and View ORCID ProfileJoseph YosePNAS first published November 2, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006465117
- Edited by Kenneth W. Wachter, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved September 15, 2020 (received for review April 6, 2020)
We use mathematical and statistical methods to probe how a sprawling, dynamic, complex narrative of massive scale achieved broad accessibility and acclaim without surrendering to the need for reductionist simplifications. Subtle narrational tricks such as how natural social networks are mirrored and how significant events are scheduled are unveiled. The narrative network matches evolved cognitive abilities to enable complex messages be conveyed in accessible ways while story time and discourse time are carefully distinguished in ways matching theories of narratology. This marriage of science and humanities opens avenues to comparative literary studies. It provides quantitative support, for example, for the widespread view that deaths appear to be randomly distributed throughout the narrative even though, in fact, they are not.