Non–Linear Temporality in The Sound and the Fury -- A Digital Humanities View

1. Abstract

This paper uses constraint logic programming to analyze the timeline of The Sound and the Fury. The basic idea is to encode inter-temporal references into inequalities, and input these into a computer program. The computer then tests possible years when each event could have occurred, while satisfying each of the constraints.

If the constraints are inconsistent, then the program will identify the ‘minimal conflict set’. If the constraints can be satisfied, then the program will output all possible orderings of events that are consistent with the constraints.

Instead of using computers to identify a unique ‘correct’ interpretation, this paper attempts to model the space of contested meanings within the text.

In linear programming, such a space is called a simplex. With large numbers of constraints, the simplex is an n-dimensional surface far beyond human visualization -- this monstrous geometrical object is the space of possible meaning for Faulkner’s chronology.

Ruifang Li (, Shanghai International Studies University

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